Dayton man among six arrested in large-scale catalytic converter theft ring, ties to murder of Harris County sheriff’s deputy

Dozens of allegedly stolen catalytic converters were recovered and six people were arrested in an investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Houston Police Department (HPD) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). One of the six men arrested is from Dayton, Texas. The rest are from Houston.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Houston Police Department (HPD) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) arrested six individuals July 28 for their alleged roles in a large-scale catalytic converter theft ring that is suspected of fencing stolen catalytic converters for the three individuals charged with murdering HCSO Sheriff’s Office Deputy Darren Almendarez. 

Authorities also executed six federal search warrants at five Houston-area residences and one storage facility as part of the large-scale multi-agency criminal investigation into the organized theft group.

The individuals arrested Thursday pursuant to state arrest warrants for their alleged roles in the theft ring were Jose Martinez, 19; Armando Martinez, 18; Isaac Castillo, 21; Terance Elder, 20; and Armando Martinez Sr., 39; all residents of Houston, and Jose Sanchez, a 21-year-old resident of Dayton, Texas.

Officers with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Houston Police Department (HPD) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) raid a home in connection with an investigation of a large-scale catalytic converter theft ring in Houston. One of the suspects is from Dayton, Texas.

“For far too long, violent criminal networks and organized theft rings like this have bred chaos and terror in our communities,” said HSI Houston Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson. “Together with our fellow law enforcement partners, HSI Houston is committed to bring every resource to bear to vigorously pursue these dangerous criminal elements and will not rest until we can restore peace and order for the hard-working and law-abiding residents of Houston.”

“Our community has been increasingly plagued by these types of crimes,” said HCSO Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “I am thankful for all efforts made to arrest these dangerous individuals. This operation would not have been a success without the strong collaboration of several agencies within our region.”

“Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) special agents and troopers were pleased to play a significant role in this complex investigation of a dangerous theft ring,” said DPS Regional Director Jason Taylor. “Today’s arrests demonstrate that DPS remains committed to leveraging our efforts, so law enforcement — working together — will continue to bring criminals to justice.”

The investigation into the organized theft group has previously resulted in the arrest of one other individual and the seizure of more than $484,000 in bulk currency, one firearm, and narcotics.

Organized theft groups frequently target catalytic converters for the precious metals that they contain such as palladium, platinum and rhodium. The precious metals are extremely valuable, and a worldwide supply shortage has created an increased demand for them further driving up the value.

For more news and information on HSI Houston’s efforts to keep Southeast Texas communities safe from transnational gangs, organized theft groups and other violent criminal activity follow us on Twitter @HSIHouston.   

7 COMMENTS

  1. 10 years in federal prison for any illegal, any employer of an illegal, and 10 years for those who support illegals will work to stop this behavior.

    • Take the sugar off the table the ants stop coming, no wall needed and doesn’t cost a dime. But politicians love them some illegals, cheap labor for republicans and votes for democrats, so nothing will change.

  2. The government is replacing Americans with foreigners. The culture is turning third world and we let it happen. The illegal invaders will NEVER be loyal to the USA. They love that sewer ditch they came from.

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