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Harris County Sheriff's Office
Tuesday August 8th, 2017 :: 11:04 a.m. CDT
Community

Major Auto Theft Operation Shut Down by Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

August 8, 2017 – The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has shut down a far-reaching auto theft operation that has victimized dozens of dealers and dozens more unsuspecting shoppers. The two-year investigation culminated in indictments that were handed down last week by a Harris County grand jury.

The grand jury returned 17 charges against nine suspects in the complex auto theft after hearing evidence presented by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Eight of these nine suspects have been arrested. These felony criminal charges include participation in organized crime, theft, money laundering and making false statements to obtain credit. Some of these charges carry punishments that include the possibility of life in prison.

Last week, warrants were served at eight locations in northern Harris County. Deputies found equipment, materials and tools to create vehicle keys. They also found open vehicle titles and other documentation used to fraudulently sell stolen vehicles.

The investigation found that these suspects were targeting recent immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries, selling them stolen vehicles through social media, Craigslist and Offer Up.

Each of these cases involves two victims: the auto dealer and the buyer. Here are the numbers:
• 25 victimized dealers
• 27 victimized buyers
• 29 stolen vehicles
The total loss in retail value to dealers was $787,294. Buyers of these vehicles lost $229,000.

Sheriff’s investigators seized 18 vehicles and $8,600 in cash. They also seized four guns, including two AR-15 rifles.

This investigation benefited from the cooperation of many law enforcement agencies, including:
• Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority Task Forces throughout Texas,
• Harris County District Attorney's Office
• The Harris County Tax Office
• Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
• National Insurance Crime Bureau
• Houston Police Department
• Jersey Village Police Department
• Montgomery County Sheriff's Office
• Galveston County Sheriff's Office, and
• Pasadena Police Department
The Harris County Sheriff's Office warns car buyers to take extra precautions when shopping for cars online.
• Conduct the purchase and transfer of title at the same time in court during business hours.
• Investigate the VIN prior to purchase.
• If you do not meet at the courthouse, take a good picture of the seller, their identification and the vehicle in which they arrived.
• If the deal seems too good to be true, walk away.
If you think you have been a victim of this group, or have information, call 281-446-4399.
The following individuals were indicted in this case:
• Jaime Zamarron Jr., 26, engaging in organized criminal activity
• Herber Viera-Baires, 27, engaging in organized criminal activity
• Joshua Azpiazu, 29, engaging in organized criminal activity (OPEN WARRANT)
• Donaltila Reyes –Chicas, 25, engaging in organized criminal activity
• Arther Sabala, 28, engaging in organized criminal activity
• Jackie A Gonzales, 31, engaging in organized criminal activity
• Leopoldo Daniel Garcia, 26, engaging in organized criminal activity
• Jonathan Ortiz, 20, engaging in organized criminal activity
• Victor Hugo Torres, 48, false statements to obtain credit

The mug shots are in order of listing

Address/Location
Harris County Sheriff's Office
1200 Baker St
Houston, TX 77002

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 713-221-6000

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