BOSTON (WWLP) – A Springfield man has pleaded guilty to charges related to the theft, transportation, and sale of stolen catalytic converters, as well as engaging in money laundering, in federal court in Boston.
Jose Torres, also known as ‘Goldy’ or ‘Goldy Tech’, 37, was a part of a group of individuals, including six other men, who were arrested on April 12, 2023, on charges related to catalytic converter thefts. The group was involved in stealing catalytic converters from over 470 vehicles during the period of 2022 and 2023. These converters, which contain precious metals like palladium, platinum, and rhodium, have been targeted by thieves due to their high value, often exceeding $1,000 each in the black market.
Catalytic converter theft has become a widespread problem across various communities, resulting in damage to vehicles and significant financial losses for victims. The thieves, commonly referred to as “cutters”, employ battery-operated power tools, including fast-cutting reciprocating saws, to swiftly remove the catalytic converters from vehicles. The theft of a catalytic converter renders a vehicle inoperable and noncompliant with EPA regulations until it is properly replaced.
According to charging documents, law enforcement in Massachusetts and New Hampshire identified a maroon Acura that was frequently involved in catalytic converter thefts. Rafael Davila, alleged to be the crew leader, meticulously planned and participated in multiple thefts. The crew, including Rafael Davila’s brother Nicolas Davila, Fonseca, Feliberty, and Marshall, targeted both residential and commercial vehicles, often stealing more than 10 converters in a single night.
Once stolen, the catalytic converters were allegedly sold to Jose Torres, who acted as an intermediary. Torres accumulated stolen converters from multiple theft crews and sold them to scrap dealers in the Northeast, particularly in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey. It is estimated that Torres transacted between $30,000 and $80,000 worth of stolen catalytic converters per week.
The ongoing investigation, aided by surveillance footage, communications, and location monitoring data from cell phones and Davila’s vehicle, revealed that the defendants were involved in the theft of at least 471 catalytic converters across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 2022 and 2023. Authorities suspect that numerous additional thefts have gone unreported or remain unidentified.
The charges against Torres include:
- Conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce
- Interstate transportation of stolen property
- Conspiracy to commit money laundering
Each charge carries a significant sentence, ranging from five to twenty years in prison, supervised release, and substantial fines.
The investigation involved cooperation from over 70 local police departments across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, emphasizing the scale and scope of the catalytic converter theft problem.