Federal investigators Wednesday announced the arrest of seven Massachusetts men who are responsible for stealing at least $2 million in catalytic converters from vehicles across New England in recent months.
According to the Massachusetts State Police, the seven men were arrested Wednesday morning after many months of investigation.
Police said the men stole 471 catalytic converter car parts worth at least $2 million in Massachusetts and New Hampshire between 2022 and 2023.
U.S. District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the men worked with the skill and speed of a “NASCAR pit crew” to strip cars of their catalytic converters under the cloak of darkness.
Those arrested include Rafael “Robbin Hood” Davila, 35, of Feeding Hills, Mass., who authorities at the press conference identified as the leader of the operation; Zachary Marshall, 26, of Holyoke, Mass.; and Springfield, Mass. residents Jose “Goldy” Torres, who also goes by “Goldy Tech,” 37; Nicolas Davila, 25; Jose “Charlito” Fonseca, 26; Santo Feliberty, 34; and Alexander “Dirty” Oyola, 37. (Massachusetts State Police)
According to police, the seven Massachusetts men worked in unison to perform rapid fired theft of the valuable catalytic converters, which contain platinum, palladium and rhodium.
Police said that on numerous occasions, the defendants targeted more than 10 vehicles in a single night, with one night reporting thefts from 26 vehicles.
“The members of this criminal network arrested today, under the cloak of darkness, traveled throughout our state cutting valuable catalytic converters from vehicles owned by unsuspecting citizens and businesses. Their criminal acts violated the security and rights of vehicle owners, necessitated costly repairs, and interfered with commercial operations of business owners and the daily lives of numerous victims,” Massachusetts State Police Interim Col. John Mawn Jr. said. “The actions of these defendants are an affront to law-abiding citizens everywhere.”
“The actions of these defendants are an affront to law-abiding citizens everywhere.”
— Massachusetts State Police Interim Col. John Mawn Jr.
Investigators noted that they believe a significant number of additional thefts have not been identified or were not ever reported to law enforcement.
The department stated that the FBI and nearly 80 police departments were involved in the investigation, dubbed “Operation Cut and Run.”
Those arrested were all Massachusetts residents, including Rafael “Robbin Hood” Davila, 35, of Feeding Hills, who authorities at the press conference identified as the leader of the operation; Zachary Marshall, 26, of Holyoke; and Springfield residents Jose “Goldy” Torres, who also goes by “Goldy Tech,” 37; Nicolas Davila, 25; Jose “Charlito” Fonseca, 26; Santo Feliberty, 34; and Alexander “Dirty” Oyola, 37.
A trunk filled with stolen catalytic converters in Massachusetts from the seven men who allegedly stole over 470 catalytic converters in New England in 2022 and 2023. (Massachusetts State Police)
Catalytic converters are a component of a vehicle’s exhaust device that reduce the toxic gas and pollutants from a vehicle’s internal combustion engine into safe emissions, and are required on all combustion engine automobiles in the U.S.
Catalytic converters are valuable on the black market since they are made using rare metals, including palladium.
According to the Massachusetts State Police, the converters are worth about $1,000 apiece on the black market.
The thieves used power tools to remove the car parts within minutes.
State police remove a stolen vehicle from a home in western Massachusetts on Wednesday. (Massachusetts State Police)
On Wednesday, authorities executed search warrants at locations in Agawam, Springfield, Palmer, and Holyoke. State police shared in a video that authorities collected stolen property from the thieves Wednesday evening.
In the video, police can be seen towing away six cars, seven motorcycles, a boat, two jet skis and numerous stolen catalytic converters.
In addition to the catalytic converter thefts, Rafael Davila, Santo Feliberty, and Oyola also conspired to steal from ATMs of federally insured banks in Massachusetts on three separate occasions in December 2022, according to investigators.
This conspiracy is said to have involved the use of stolen trucks that they would use to rip the ATMs from the ground and gain access to the vault.
Davila, Feliberty, and Oyola are also accused of committing burglaries at two New Hampshire jewelry stores in January 2023.
The combined total value of the jewelry stolen during the burglaries was determined to be over $137,000, with each store facing about $10,000 in costs to repair the damage.