Alleged ringleader pleads guilty to mass catalytic converter theft

Boston The alleged leader of a theft ring is accused of stealing hundreds of catalytic converters across the state including several in the MetroWest and Greater Milford communities He pleaded guilty to several federal charges.

Rafael Davila, 35, of Springfield, pleaded guilty last Wednesday US District Court conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce; interstate transportation of stolen property; conspiracy to commit money laundering; conspiracy to commit bank robbery; and bank robbery.

He will be sentenced on July 30.

Davila, also known as “Robin Hood,” was one of seven people arrested last April following a joint federal, state and local investigation dubbed “Operation Cut & Run.”

“Safety and rights violated”: About 70 Mass. police departments are helping the catalytic converter theft ring

according to the task US Department of JusticePlanned and participated in all thefts, provided transportation to the locations where the thefts occurred, and procured items necessary to commit the thefts.

Authorities say the group is responsible for the theft of the $2 million converter

In total, the group stole more than 500 Catalysts, as well as several ATMs in New Hampshire. The cost of the catalyst was more than 2 million dollars.

Catalytic converters, which are located along the exhaust pipe of the car and have a honeycomb shape, reduce the amount of toxic pollution emitted from the car engine. National Insurance Crime Bureau. They are made of precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Theft of a car’s catalytic converter causes damage that renders the car inoperable – both mechanically and legally, under federal law Environmental Protection Agency Regulations – until it is properly changed.

After stealing the converters, the group sold them in New Jersey and Connecticut, authorities said, then laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds from the illegal sales.

What is a catalyst? Why these valuable auto parts are a target for theft

The band hit several local communities, including Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hudson, Marlborough, Milford and Northborough. Locally, the group stole at least 44 pickups, authorities say.

According to the Department of Justice, the number of catalytic converter thefts has decreased significantly in Massachusetts since the arrest. Since April 2023, fewer than 15 converters have been stolen. “Hundreds” of cases were reported in the nine months before the arrest.

Davila is the last member of the group to plead guilty. Of the other six, three were sentenced to at least three years in federal prison, and the other three are awaiting sentencing.

Davila faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of more than $1 million.

Norman Miller can be reached at 508-626-3823 or nmiller@wickedlocal.com. For the latest public safety news, follow him at X @Norman_MillerMW or on Facebook at facebook.com/NormanMillerCrime.

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