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Car theft ring bust leads to ties with drug cartel

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Drug Charges |

Police in Texas cities have long been aware of how the tentacles of large Mexican drug cartels have been moving into border towns and municipalities. The earliest cases involved only the attempt to smuggle more drugs for sale in the United States. The latest investigation, announced by the Houston Police Department, has now revealed a close connection between a large drug cartel known as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNGC) and a ring of chop shops in Houston that have been used to facilitate a large number of car thefts.

Breaking the car theft ring

During a raid on three of the chop sites on Thursday, April 4, 2024, three Mexican nationals were arrested and accused of operating a string of chop shops in the Houston area. One of the three is believed to have entered the U.S. on an unknown date at least thirteen years ago and has been in and out of police custody several times since then.

The three men were arrested on the sites of three chop shop operations. The parts from the dismantled cars are then sold on the black market. In Thursday’s raid, police recovered 14 stolen vehicles with fraudulent titles.

Other activities of the cartel

A retired DEA executive, Ray Donovan, told police that many of the cartels and their associates dabble in various forms of crime beyond drug manufacturing and trafficking. Among other crimes, Donovan said the DEA suspects the car theft ring of being involved in human trafficking.

Houston as the center of the wheel

Houston has been described as a “hub for the cartels.” Drugs such as fentanyl and cocaine come into Houston from Mexico and, according to Donovan, are then transshipped to large cities such as Chicago or Atlanta.

More arrests likely

Warrants remain unreturned for the leader of the drug-trafficking ring and fifteen other fugitives who are accused of being involved in related activities. In a related development, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas announced the arrests of 23 people tied to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. Several of these individuals are believed to be involved with the same or related activities as the JNGC.

Potential defenses

Media descriptions of the arrests did not include detailed descriptions of the arrests, and potential defenses were obscure. Nevertheless, the large number of arrests and the fact that the arrest locations were open to the air supports the inference that experienced defense attorneys can find a number of factually supported defense theories.


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