BOSTON (WWLP) – Several police agencies were assisting in a federal investigation at numerous locations in Feeding Hills, Springfield, and Holyoke Tuesday morning.
During a news conference held by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, seven people were arrested in connection with the theft of catalytic converters across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Nearly 500 catalytic converters were stolen and then sold across state lines valued at roughly $2 million.
In conjunction with the arrests made from the thefts, state police also executed search warrants in Agawam, Springfield, Palmer, and Holyoke. Police seized 7 guns, 7 motorcycles, a boat, and 2 jet skis.
A video from the state police twitter page shows the vehicles and trailers being towed away.
The following suspects were arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, interstate transportation of stolen property, conspiracy to commit bank theft, bank theft, and money laundering conspiracy.
- Rafael Davila, a/k/a “Robin Hood” (35) of Feeding Hills
- Jose Torres, a/k/a “Goldy” a/k/a “Goldy Tech,” (37) of Springfield
- Nicolas Davila (25) of Springfield
- Jose Fonseca, a/k/a “Charlito” (26) of Springfield
- Zachary Marshall (26) of Holyoke
- Santo Feliberty (34) of Springfield
- Alexander Oyola, a/k/a “Dirty” (37) of Springfield
U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said multiple raids were conducted Tuesday morning. 22News crew could see the FBI is involved in an investigation at 799 South West Street in Feeding Hills Wednesday morning.
The following information was released by the Justice Department in Boston:
“Law enforcement throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire identified a large number of catalytic converter thefts for which a maroon Acura was identified as having been involved. These incidents involved at least two suspects wearing dark clothing, who would target residential and commercial vehicles. The suspects were skilled and able to locate and cut away the catalytic converter from a vehicle within a minute in most instances. The suspects utilized battery operated power-tools, specifically a fast-cutting reciprocating saw. Some vehicles needed to be jacked up in order to access the catalytic converters and the suspects would promptly place the jack under the vehicle, raise it, cut the catalytic converter, stow it in the rear of the maroon Acura and move on.
The investigation revealed that the maroon Acura belonged to Rafael Davila, the alleged theft crew leader who planned and participated in each of the thefts. It is alleged that Rafael Davila engages in catalytic converter thefts and burglaries on a full-time basis, committing thefts multiple nights per week for upwards of eight hours a night. Additionally, cell phone data allegedly revealed that Rafael Davila maintained meticulous notes accounting for 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.
It is alleged that Rafael Davila would undertake the thefts with a group of individuals, including his brother Nicolas Davila, Fonseca, Feliberty and Marshall. Rafael Davila was allegedly responsible for the planning of and transportation to each targeted theft – using his vehicle, determining price values for stolen converters and purchasing needed materials. Specifically, Rafael Davila allegedly regularly purchased large quantities of bi-metal saw blades designed to be used with a reciprocating power saw as well as cut resistant gloves which, according to surveillance footage, appear identical to those worn by the thieves.
Surveillance footage, communications and location monitoring data obtained from the defendants’ cell phones and Davila’s vehicle, identified that the defendants were allegedly involved in the theft of catalytic converters from at least 471 vehicles across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 2022 and 2023 alone. It is believed that a significant number of additional thefts have not been identified or were not ever reported to law enforcement, however. It is alleged that, on numerous occasions, the defendants targeted more than 10 vehicles in a single night, with one night reporting thefts from 26 vehicles.
Once in possession of the stolen catalytic converters, the crew would then allegedly sell them to Torres, who would accumulate stolen catalytic converters from multiple theft crews and then in turn sell them to scrap dealers in the Northeast. In particular, Torres allegedly sold stolen catalytic converters to scrap dealers who have since been charged federally for interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering, including Alexander Kolitsas and Downpipe Depot charged in the District of Connecticut, as well as DG Auto, a New Jersey based company charged in the Eastern District of California and Northern District of Oklahoma. Torres is alleged to have transacted approximately $30,000 to $80,000 in stolen catalytic converters per week to these entities.
Through use of digital pricing applications, and communication with the core buyers, Torres allegedly provided prices to Davila and other theft crews based of the make and model of the vehicle and by the code on the catalytic converter. Knowing the prices of the most valuable converters, Davila and his crew would seek out those makes and models to target. Torres then negotiated with the core buyer and delivered the catalytic converters to their facility. It is alleged that Torres is known to have sold and transported thousands of stolen catalytic converters to scrap dealers in the Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey areas.
In addition to the prolific number of catalytic converter thefts, it is alleged that Rafael Davila, Feliberty and Oyola also conspired to steal from ATMs of federally insured banks in Massachusetts on three separate occasions in December 2022. It is alleged that this conspiracy involved date use of stolen trucks that they would use to rip the ATMs from the ground and gain access to the vault. Davila, Feliberty and Oyola also are alleged to have committed burglaries of two New Hampshire jewelry stores on Jan. 12, 2023. The combined total value of the jewelry stolen during the burglaries was determined to be over $137,000, with each store facing approximately $10,000 in costs to repair the resulting damage.”
Catalytic converters in recent years have become incredibly valuable because of the metals inside and they can take minutes to steal. Thefts have increased from 2019 to 2021, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Reports of catalytic converters stolen
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What sentence do the suspects face?
The sentencing is determined by a federal district court judge, the suspects face the following sentences if proven guilty:
- Conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce: up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
- Interstate transportation of stolen property: up to 10 years, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
- Charge of conspiracy to commit bank theft: up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
- Bank theft: up to 10 years, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
- Conspiracy to commit money laundering: up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the proceeds, whichever is greater.
Agencies involved in catalytic converter investigation
More than 70 local police departments from across New England assisted in the investigation.
Massachusetts: Abington, Acton, Andover, Auburn, Bedford, Bellingham, Beverly, Billerica, Burlington, Bridgewater, Canton, Carver, Chelmsford, Concord, Cranston, East Hampton, Easton, Fitchburg, Framingham, Franklin, Hampton, Hanover, Haverhill, Hingham, Holliston, Holyoke, Hudson, Ipswich, Lawrence, Leominster, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Marlborough, Methuen, Middleton, Milford, Millbury, Newton, Northborough, Norwell, Norwood, Peabody, Pembroke, Plymouth, Randolph, Rockland, Sharon, Shrewsbury, Springfield, Sterling, Sturbridge, Sudbury, Tyngsborough, Walpole, Waltham, Watertown, West Bridgewater, Weymouth, Wilmington, Woburn and Worcester.
New Hampshire: Bow, Concord, Derry, Hooksett, Hudson, Londonderry, Manchester, Salem and Windham.
Connecticut: South Windsor and Windsor.