Houston, TX

Big catalytic converter theft ring bust in Houston connected to murder of sheriff's deputy

Covering Katy

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Homeland Security Investigations, Houston

HOUSTON, TX (Covering Katy) - There may be fewer catalytic converter thefts in Katy following a huge bust today in Houston.

Six men were arrested. They are accused of fencing stolen catalytic converters for three individuals charged with murdering Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Almendarez.

Almendarez was shot and killed while off duty when he interrupted three men who were stealing a catalytic converter on March 31, 2022.

Today, law enforcement raided five Houston-area homes and one storage facility. They recovered stacks of stolen catalytic converters.

The individuals arrested Thursday, July 28, are Jose Martinez, 19; Armando Martinez, 18; Isaac Castillo, 21; Terance Elder, 20; and Armando Martinez Sr., 39; they are all residents of Houston. Jose Sanchez, 21, was also arrested and is a resident of Dayton, Texas.

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Homeland Security Investigations, Houston

"For far too long, violent criminal networks and organized theft rings like this have bred chaos and terror in our communities," said Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson.

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.

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Homeland Security Investigations, Houston

"Our community has been increasingly plagued by these types of crimes," said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. "I am thankful for all efforts made to arrest these dangerous individuals."

Organized theft groups frequently target catalytic converters for the precious metals they contain, such as palladium, platinum, and rhodium. There have been numerous thefts in the Katy area. The precious metals are extremely valuable, and a worldwide supply shortage has increased demand for them, further driving their value.

Homeland Security Investigations, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Houston Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety all took part in the bust.

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Homeland Security Investigations, Houston

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