5 members of alleged catalytic converter theft ring already free on bond

Last month, four law enforcement agencies raided five Houston-area homes and a storage facility with six federal search warrants in hand. It was all to arrest five men who authorities say ran an organized catalytic converter theft ring.

"It was a big to-do when they busted up this ring," said Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers.

BACKGROUND: 6 people arrested in catalytic converter theft ring, suspected ties to murder of HCSO deputy

But in a matter of days, all five were free from jail.

"Every single member of this organized theft ring that had been plaguing the City of Houston and Harris County was back out on the streets," Kahan said.

That includes 40-year-old Armando Martinez, Sr.

"He has prior felony convictions he's got other convictions as well he's forfeited his bond umpteenth number of times," said Kahan. "He actually went to prison in 2021 they gave him 2 years for assault with intent to impede breathing."


Even though Armando Martinez, Sr. was on parole 338th Criminal District Court Judge Ramona Franklin set his bond at $75,000.

The lowest of all five defendants.

It's clear in documents the court knew Martinez was on parole.

"One would logically think that if you're on parole how on earth are you getting a bond," Kahan said.


Martinez's 18-year-old son Armando, Jr., who has forfeited bonds in the past, is free on a $100,000 bond.

Nineteen-year-old Jose Martinez, also Armando Martinez's son, 21-year-old Issac Castillo, and 20-year-old Terrance Elder had the highest bond amounts $200,000 but none of them have prior felony convictions.

All are charged with committing organized criminal activity and all are walking free.

"It's like they rewarded Martinez Sr for having the most convictions by giving him the lowest bond," Kahan said.