HOUSTON – Houston Police Chief Troy Finner and officers announced a “massive takedown” in a major auto theft ring on Wednesday.
Finner said 25 charges have been filed and 23 arrests have been made against the suspects responsible for hundreds of vehicle thefts in the city in the last five years.
Two suspects, Adrian Anthony Longoria, 20, and Devani Laguna, 18, are still on the run and wanted for their roles in the theft ring.
Auto theft ringleader arrest
Police also arrested the auto theft ringleader, known as Mazimiliano Rodriguez, 33, and he was charged with multiple felony crimes. Rodriguez is also believed to be responsible for at least $10 million worth of stolen vehicles in the past few years.
He was taken into custody on Sept. 8 after detectives executed a search and arrest warrant at a residence in the town of Spring. His bond total was set at $1.5 million.
The investigation and takedown
Detectives said Rodriguez recruited and trained numerous individuals.
He reportedly offered and promised these individuals a place to stay and easy money. Once they agreed, Rodriguez allegedly provided his “workers” with a stolen vehicle to drive, various equipment and training on how to steal high-end vehicles.
Following the training, investigators said Rodriguez sent his crew members out into apartment complexes, businesses, and commercial parking garages to steal high-end pickup trucks and cars. Rodriguez would often scout luxury apartment complexes in the Galleria, downtown and Heights areas of the city during the day to locate vehicles he would later send his workers to steal.
Once the vehicles were stolen, investigators said Rodriguez had a sophisticated network of drop locations and stash houses to hide them. Most of the vehicles were sold on apps - such as Facebook and OfferUp - to unsuspecting buyers. Rodriguez reportedly sold the vehicles with fictitious documents and altered Vehicle Identification Numbers, thereby creating two separate victims for each vehicle stolen.
One of the suspects, Juan Luna, 33, was arrested on Sept. 26 after he was charged with stealing a vehicle owned by Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Mr. Reggie Jackson, on August 29.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of wanted suspects Adrian Longoria and/or Devani Laguna is urged to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS for anonymous tips with a reward up to $5,000 for leading to their whereabouts