$12M Stash of Stolen Catalytic Converters Found in Texas With Stolen Guns and a Stolen Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Catalytic converter theft is a lot like mosquitos; it is a constant irritation we can’t seem to get rid of. Granted, mosquitos probably have some positive benefits to the ecosystems of the world. Cops just busted a crime ring with nearly $12 million in stolen catalytic converters, guns, and a Challenger Hellcat. 

Why are so many catalytic converters being stolen? 

Things aren’t going so well these days. Car inventory is low, parts inventory is low, and demand for cars and replacement parts are the highest we’ve seen in years. The catalytic converter theft has blossomed into a full-blown epidemic

In this most recent bust in Houston, TX, a total of 477 stolen catalytic converters and over 2,800 O2 sensors were cut from cars in the area. The task force also located a stolen Challenger Hellcat and 29 stolen guns. 

Of all the stolen items discovered, no car had more stolen parts represented than the Toyota Tundra. 

Who is responsible for this crime spree?

Massive pile of stolen catalytic Converters
A massive pile of stolen catalytic Converters | KHOU 11

According to CarBuzz, Jose Martinez, Armando Martinez, Isaac Castillo, Terance Elder, 20, and Armando Martinez Sr., all from Houston, TX, stand accused of the nearly $12,000,000 in stolen goods. Martinez Sr. posted his $50,000 bail, and Jose Sanchez was released without being charged. 

“Martinez is a mid-level or mid-tier buyer that was part of a sophisticated organized criminal entity engaged in cutting, purchasing, and selling the stolen [catalytic] converters,” KHOU 11 reported. “They were advertising on social media. They would post price lists with different models the gang was interested in purchasing.”

How much are catalytic converters worth? 

stolen catalytic Converters in the yard
stolen catalytic Converters in the yard | KHOU 11

The driving force behind the rash of catalytic converter theft is the shortages within automotive production. As such, the valuable rare metal, Palladium – a key ingredient needed to make converters – is now trading for $2,148 per ounce. 

“It’s very costly if you get your catalytic converter stolen,” Harris County Sergeant Jeff Thomas said. “The main target is the Toyota Tundra. You are looking at $1,800 to $3,000 to get them replaced. It’s part of a big organized crime; We do have some cutters, maybe some of the top people of the organization today.” he added.

Like most other modern-day villains, these cutters use Facebook to advertise stolen goods or the willingness to buy stolen goods. The “want to buy” stolen goods posts attracted many “cutters” and clients to Martinez Sr.’s shop. Martinez Sr. allegedly exported many of these out of state, whether for cat replacement or for the scrap value of the Palladium. 

This problem is one of a laundry list of ripples that extend from the cluster that was the Pandemic. Keep your eyes on your cars, people. Until Palladium isn’t trading so highly, our cars simply aren’t safe. Stay frosty, friends.

RELATED: Can You Stop Someone From Stealing Your Catalytic Converter?