Local police make 130 arrests in "Operation Wheels and Deals" crime bust

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter, Cory McCord - Digital News Editor

An organized crime ring bust has netted 130 arrests. Police say the suspects committed thefts and other property crimes in and around Houston that amounted to more than $2 million in stolen items.

It all started with a Houston Police Department undercover operation in April 2015 at the Port of Houston involving the purchase of stolen items.

During the operation, HPD and the Pasadena Police Department realized they were investigating the same suspects. Around the same time, the HPD Burglary and Theft Division was investigating a large theft involving a small business' entire inventory of motorcycle apparel and accessories. Police said a large criminal group targeted big-ticket items, usually transported in large trailers, and would steal the trailer and its contents.

“These thieves were stealing anything and everything they could put their hands on. They went after trailers they saw parked on the streets of Greater Houston. They stole four wheelers, quad runners, lawn equipment, motorcycle equipment,” says Lt. Mike Osina of the Houston Police Department.

Together, multiple agencies -- HPD's Criminal Intelligence, Burglary and Theft, Auto Theft, Narcotics and Eastside Patrol divisions, as well as the Pasadena and Baytown police departments and the departments of Public Safety and Homeland Security -- teamed up to file more than 200 charges and arrest 130 suspects in what has been called "Operation Wheels and Deals."

One of the victims of this alleged gang of thieves happens to be country music singer Zane Williams.

In May of 2015, Williams' 15-passenger Ford Van was stolen along with an entire trailer full of musical instruments, including a 100-year-old violin.

“Yep, they stole my van and everything in my van, then they stole my trailer too," Williams said.

Reacting to today’s news that the alleged ring of thieves has been smashed, Williams said, “I’m really glad they got picked up.”

More arrests are expected in the coming weeks.

Most of those arrested are facing charges of engaging in organized crime, aggravated robbery and aggravated assault.