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Arrests made in Arizona auto theft ring

CBS 5 News CBS 5 News

Phoenix police say 14 search warrants were issued and at least 17 arrests made as the result of a 15-month-long investigation into an auto theft ring.

Search warrants were served Wednesday morning at several locations in Phoenix, Tucson and Coolidge as part of "Operation Tin Man," said Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.

Police said the following people were arrested on charges ranging from participating in a criminal syndicate, trafficking in stolen property, warrants and drug charges.

  1. Steve Hendrix, 37
  2. Shane Hendrix Jr., 18
  3. Cornelius Hendrix, 42
  4. Charles Flowers, 51
  5. Johnny Cornelius, 41
  6. Merrick Way, 28
  7. David Gamboa, 57
  8. Thomas Nelson Ramirez, 37
  9. Joe Carter, 47
  10. Michael Wooster, 34
  11. Milton Hendrix, 25
  12. Nicole Ward, 20
  13. Shane Hendrix, 41
  14. Abel Soto, 34
  15. Flory Mercedes Devian Samayoa, 25,
  16. Billy Barnett, 49
  17. Florie Pineset, 55

Police said stolen vehicles were brought to different salvage yards by the car thieves and destroyed so they could be sold as scrap metal. Several of the vehicles were falsely reported as stolen as part of an insurance fraud scheme. Police said metal known to be stolen was bought by the businesses. Several members of the group were also involved in illegal drug sales.

During the investigation, five stolen "manhole" covers were located, four from the city of Avondale and one from the city of Coolidge. Two stolen guns were also seized.

The Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the Pinal County Attorney's Office conducted the investigation, Thompson said.

Assisting in the serving of the search warrants were the Pima County Sheriff's Office, Pinal County Sheriff's Office, Glendale Police Department and Goodyear Police Department, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, Thompson said.

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