An observant Cleveland police officer is being credited with stopping an alleged fuel theft operation.
Officer Maria Rodriguez was patrolling the area of US 59 at SH 105 around 1:41 a.m. Wednesday, July 8, when she spotted three males standing by gas pumps located at Sunny’s Cleveland Chevron.
Cleveland Police Department had recently been alerted to unknown persons stealing diesel fuel from Houston-area fueling stations. With this information in mind, Rodriguez continued to observe the males, noting that they were taking an extensive amount of time to fuel their vehicles.
She approached the men to ask about their activities and found that one of the men – Lazar Yasser Suarez-Copinger, 28 – had an active arrest warrant for Felony Violation of Motor Fuel Tax out of Harris County. He was taken into custody for the active arrest warrant.
The other two men – Ramon Pozo Rodriguez, 28, and Javier Velasquez Herrera, 23 – were held while she continued to investigate. A check of their vehicle found that the 2004 F-650 they were using was listed as stolen out of Harris County.
Detective John Shaver was contacted and arrived to assist in the investigation, which found that the three men are allegedly part of a criminal organization that steals vast amounts of fuel from businesses in the Houston area, said Capt. Scott Felts, spokesperson for Cleveland PD.
“Officer Rodriguez’s inquisitive stop is assisting with numerous cases throughout the Houston Region. These three individuals may be responsible for numerous thefts involving thousands of gallons of fuel,” Felts said.
All three have charges pending for Fraudulent Possession of Credit or Debit Card Information, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.
Cleveland Police Department is being assisted by the Texas Comptroller’s Criminal Investigation Division.