Sacramento, CA — Yesterday, Monday, October 16th, 2023, three members of a Rio Linda family confessed to their involvement in a far-reaching conspiracy to steal and transport catalytic converters worth a staggering $600 million from California to New Jersey. U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert made this announcement, highlighting the severity of the nationwide theft operation, which drew together a web of perpetrators, suppliers, and processors.
The guilty parties, identified as Tou Sue Vang (age 32), Andrew Vang (age 28), and Monica Moua (age 58), all of Rio Linda, admitted to conspiring in the theft and transportation of these valuable auto anti-smog devices, with the promise of receiving more than $38 million in wired payments. Additionally, Tou Sue Vang pleaded guilty to 39 charges related to money laundering. In total, 21 individuals from California and New Jersey face charges in connection to this operation.
On November 2nd, 2022, FBI, Sacramento County Sheriff, Sacramento Police Department, and CHP took part in a raid at the Vang family’s base of operations at 6148 20th Street in Rio Linda.
Catalytic converters, a vital component of a vehicle’s exhaust system designed to reduce harmful emissions, contain precious metals, including palladium, platinum, and rhodium. These metals are often more valuable per ounce than gold and have witnessed a surge in demand and value in recent years. Their black-market price can exceed $1,000 each, depending on the vehicle type and state of origin. Catalytic converters are frequently targeted by thieves due to their high value and ease of theft. In California, approximately 1,600 catalytic converters were reported stolen each month in the past year, accounting for 37% of all catalytic converter theft claims in the country.
According to court documents, the defendants operated an unlicensed business out of their Sacramento residence, where they purchased stolen catalytic converters from local thieves and shipped them to DG Auto Parts LLC (DG Auto) in New Jersey for processing. DG Auto is also facing charges, as they knowingly purchased stolen catalytic converters and extracted precious metal powders from the catalytic cores through a “de-canning” process. The precious metal powders were then sold to a metal refinery for a combined total exceeding $600 million.
The accused individuals include Navin Khanna (aka Lovin Khanna), Tinu Khanna (aka Gagan Khanna), Daniel Dolan, Chi Mo (aka David Mo), Wright Louis Mosley, and Ishu Lakra, all from New Jersey, and associated with DG Auto’s operations. It is important to note that the charges against these individuals are allegations, and they are considered innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case resulted from a comprehensive investigation carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, with cooperation from various local law enforcement agencies, including the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento Police Department, Davis Police Department, Auburn Police Department, Livermore Police Department, and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica M.A. Alegría is leading the prosecution.
Sentencing for Tou Sue Vang, Andrew Vang, and Monica Moua is yet to be scheduled. Andrew Vang and Monica Moua face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Tou Sue Vang faces multiple charges, each with varying maximum penalties ranging from 20 years to five years in prison and fines ranging from $500,000 to $250,000 per count or twice the gross gain or loss from the crimes. Ultimately, the court will determine the actual sentences, taking into account statutory factors and Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which consider various variables.
This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) initiative aimed at tackling organized crime on a large scale.