Harris County raids chop shops in auto theft crackdown linked to cartel

Harris County authorities conducted a series of raids on suspected auto theft operations across three locations, aided by the SWAT team. The focus of the raids was on sites believed to be involved in dismantling stolen vehicles for parts, commonly known as chop shops. Investigators are currently combing through the scenes to gather evidence.

The crackdown followed an undercover operation centered around getting organized crime networks involved in the illicit trade of stolen vehicles and car parts. 

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Harris County sheriff Ed Gonzalez reports 14 stolen vehicles, including several high-end ones, have been recovered as a result of this operation, with an estimated combined value exceeding $1 million. This particular case has links to international drug trafficking organizations, adding a layer of complexity to the ongoing investigation.

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"We know that this organization is sometimes involved in human trafficking as well," stated a spokesperson for the authorities. "This underscores the interconnected nature of these criminal activities and their ties to various other forms of violence."


Over the past six months, authorities have pursued leads in this case, leading to a roundup of suspects. While most individuals were apprehended without incident, one attempted to flee the scene. Five suspects are in custody, with additional individuals detained for questioning.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez posted on X the names of three of those five suspects arrested. He says Edgar Bravo is charged with 2nd degree felony theft, Jesus Gutierrez-Escamilla with 2nd degree felony theft and Bernardo Fernandez-Pereyda is charged with Evading Arrest.

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Several people were detained and let go after questioning. Ronnie Perlata says he was one of those people.

"It was sudden. They arrived and we were all in shock," he said.

Perlata spoke only Spanish, so we translated his quotes to English. He says he works in granite construction and was working on site, but had no idea the operation was illegal.

"I feel like my heart is about to come out," he said.

The cartel, the Cartel de Jalisco Nuevo Generacion is the same cartel at the center of a major drug bust just days ago.

Once processed, the recovered vehicles will be returned to their rightful owners. The investigation remains ongoing as authorities continue to unravel the intricate web of criminal activity associated with these operations.