HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Nine people have been charged in what deputies are calling a 'major auto theft operation'.
According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, nine people have been charged after deputies say the suspects would sell stolen vehicles to recent immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries. Deputies say the suspects would target the victims through social media, Craigslist and Offer Up.
The two-year investigation culminated in indictments handed down by a Harris County grand jury last week. Deputies served warrants at eight locations in northern Harris County. Deputies found equipment and materials to create vehicle keys. They also found open vehicle titles and other fraudulent documentation.
Photos: Nine accused of selling stolen vehicles to immigrants online
HCSO says that auto dealers and buyers were both victimized in this case. There were 25 victimized dealers, 27 victimized buyers and 29 stolen cars.
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.
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