BOSTON (WWLP) – A man from Springfield pled guilty in Boston Federal Court for his involvement in an interstate catalytic converter theft scheme.
According to the Department of Justice, 25-year-old Zachary Marshall of Springfield and six co-conspirators were part of an organized group that allegedly stole catalytic converters from at least 492 vehicles across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 2022 and 2023. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to relocate the stolen property in interstate commerce and interstate transportation of stolen property.
Catalytic converter theft is a nationwide problem across state, local, and federal jurisdictions because of the high-valued metals that they contain, and some are more valuable than gold, with black-market prices being more than $1,000 each over the years. The theft results in the vehicle being inoperable, both mechanically and legally under EPA regulations, until the catalytic converter is replaced properly.
Marshall was part of a crew that allegedly stole catalytic converters from around 492 vehicles in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 2022 and 2023 alone. However, it is believed that there were additional thefts that have not yet been identified or were not reported to law enforcement.
The crew was able to locate and cut the catalytic converter from a vehicle within a minute by using battery-operated tools and car jacks. It is also alleged that the defendants targeted more than 10 vehicles in a single night, with one night reporting thefts from 26 vehicles.
Allegedly, the crew was led by Rafael Davila, who has been involved in catalytic converter thefts and burglaries on a full-time basis. He has committed thefts multiple nights per week for upwards of eight hours a night. Davila was allegedly responsible for the planning of and the relocation to each targeted theft, using his own vehicle, determining price values for stolen converters, and purchasing materials that were needed.
It is also alleged that Davila maintained notes on the locations that he and his co-conspirators had targeted and the number of catalytic converters that had been stolen, including the makes and models and when they were dropped off.
Marshall played a role in the thefts of catalytic converters from 107 vehicles in 10 separate instances between January 19, and April 6, most of those were targeted vehicles in more than one municipality over the course of just one night.
Once the crew obtained the converters, they would sell them to Jose Torres, and he would then accumulate stolen catalytic converters from different theft crews and then sell them to scrap dealers in the Northeast. The sales totaled approximately $30,000 to $80,000 in stolen catalytic converters every week.
Torres sold the stolen catalytic converters to scrap dealers who have been charged federally since then for interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering in the District of Connecticut, the Eastern District of California, and the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Marshall admitted to breaking into a self-storage facility in Northborough on February 2 with Davila, and during this break-in, Davila and Marshall stole items from the units and a truck containing $13,000 worth of Milwaukee brand power tools. A high-speed chase took place with law enforcement that evening which reached speeds of 120 mph. Some of the stolen tool items were found later during a search of a storage unit that was controlled by Davila on April 12 as part of the takedown in this case.
Torres pleaded guilty to his role in the catalytic converter theft conspiracy on May 17 and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 14. Alex Oyola pleaded guilty to ATM and jewelry store burglaries on May 24 and will be sentenced at a later date. On March 13, Nicolas Davila pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 9th. Santo Feliberty pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy on October 19 and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 31. Charges against Rafael Davila and Carlos Fonseca remain pending and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The charge of conspiracy to transfer stolen property in interstate commerce provides for a sentence of five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of interstate transportation of stolen property are a sentence of up to 10 years, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to commit bank theft is a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of bank theft are a sentence of up to 10 years, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition is up to 10 years, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Over 70 local police departments in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut contributed to this investigation.
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