Justice Department Announces Takedown of Nationwide Catalytic Converter Theft Ring

The United States is seeking forfeiture of over $545 million in connection with this case

Three of the Nine Arrests made in Rio Linda

Yesterday, 11/2/2022, Federal, state, and local law enforcement from across the United States executed a nationwide, coordinated takedown of a national network of thieves, dealers, and processors for their roles in stolen catalytic converters sold to a metal refinery for tens of millions of dollars.

Arrests, searches, and seizures took place in California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia. In total, 21 individuals in five states have been arrested and/or charged for their roles in the conspiracy.

Locally, FBI, Sacramento County Sheriff, Sacramento Police Department and CHP took part in a raid at 6148 20th Street in Rio Linda.

The 21 defendants are charged in two separate indictments that were unsealed today in the Eastern District of California and the Northern District of Oklahoma following extensive law enforcement arrest and search operations. In addition to the indictments, over 32 search warrants were executed, and law enforcement seized millions of dollars in assets, including homes, bank accounts, cash, and luxury vehicles.

“Amidst a rise in catalytic converter thefts across the country, the Justice Department has today carried out an operation arresting 21 defendants and executing 32 search warrants in a nation-wide takedown of a multimillion-dollar catalytic converter theft network. We will continue to work alongside our state and local partners to disrupt criminal conspiracies like this one that target the American people.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland

“With California’s higher emission standards, our community has become a hot bed for catalytic converter theft. Last year approximately 1,600 catalytic converters were reportedly stolen in California each month, and California accounts for 37% of all catalytic converter theft claims nationwide. I am proud to announce that we have indicted nine people who are at the core of catalytic theft in our community and nationwide.”

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California

“Just like the precious metal inside every catalytic converter, there’s a money trail at the core of every criminal scheme. Our IRS-CI special agents and partners are incredibly well-versed at unraveling financial trails, and this case is not unique. There are real victims here – friends, neighbors, and businesses – and our hope is that today’s arrests will deter similar criminal activity.” 

Chief Jim Lee of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI)

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of California returned a 40‑count indictment charging nine defendants with conspiracy to transport stolen catalytic converters, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and other related charges.

According to court documents, brothers Tou Sue Vang, 31, and Andrew Vang, 27, and Monica Moua, 51, all of Sacramento, California, allegedly operated an unlicensed business from their personal residence in Sacramento where they bought stolen catalytic converters from local thieves and shipped them to DG Auto Parts LLC (DG Auto) in New Jersey for processing. The Vang family allegedly sold over $38 million in stolen catalytic converters to DG Auto.

Defendants Navin Khanna, aka Lovin Khanna, 39; Tinu Khanna, aka Gagan Khanna, 35; Daniel Dolan, 44; Chi Mo, aka David Mo, 37; Wright Louis Mosley, 50; and Ishu Lakra, 24, all of New Jersey, operated DG Auto in multiple locations in New Jersey. They knowingly purchased stolen catalytic converters and, through a “de-canning” process, extracted the precious metal powders from the catalytic core. DG Auto sold the precious metal powders it processed from California and elsewhere to a metal refinery for over $545 million.

As shown in the indictment below, It is alleged that the Vang brothers (with Moua) purchased the Rio Linda property for $1.2 Million less than a year ago, in December of 2021. They also purchased a home in the Florin area and another in New Jersey.

It is also alleged that between November 2019 and June 2022, they purchased many cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles with their gains. These include:

  • 2020 Toyota RAV4
  • 2019 Toyota Highlander
  • 2020 Ford F-250
  • 2021 Tesla Model S
  • 2021 Tesla Model 3
  • 2000 Acura NSX
  • 2013 Subaru BRZ
  • 2020 Toyota Tundra
  • Two 2021 SeaDoo’s

The indictment shows forty counts against the defendants, carrying a penalty of 20 years in prison, in some cases.

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