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George W. Walker age 76, of Runnemede
James A. Stezzi, 59, of Runnemede

Authorities Bust Large-Scale Catalytic Converter Theft Ring

PEARLAND, Texas – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, in conjunction with the Pearland Police Department, Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, Alvin Police Department, and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) arrested five individuals Aug. 24 for their alleged roles in a large-scale catalytic converter theft ring that is suspected of fencing stolen catalytic converters for the three individuals charged with murdering Harris County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Darren Almendarez.

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Authorities also executed six state search warrants at three residences and three commercial properties located in the Pearland-area and three warrants on financial institutions as part of the large-scale multi-agency criminal investigation into the organized theft group.

The individuals arrested pursuant to state arrest warrants for engaging in organized criminal activity include Timothy Ngo, 51, Henry Pham, 55, Quoc Bao Le, 39, Tran Le, 45, and Tram Le, 47.

In addition to the arrests, authorities seized more than 1,450 stolen catalytic converters, approximately $840,000 in illicit proceeds, five vehicles, and various equipment believed to be used to further the criminal activity of the organized theft group.

Organized theft groups frequently target catalytic converters for the precious metals that they contain such as palladium, platinum, and rhodium. The precious metals are extremely valuable, and a worldwide supply shortage has created an increased demand for them further driving up the value.


For more news and information on HSI Houston’s efforts to keep Southeast Texas communities safe from transnational gangs, organized theft groups and other violent criminal activity follow us on Twitter @HSIHouston.