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Press Release

West Hartford Man Admits Role in Catalytic Converter Theft Ring

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that YANQUEE RODRIGUEZ, also known as “Yankster Rodriguez,” 28, of West Hartford, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Sarala V. Nagala in Hartford to offenses related to his participation in a stolen catalytic converter trafficking ring.

According to court documents and statements made in court, law enforcement has been investigating the theft of catalytic converters from motor vehicles across Connecticut.  A catalytic converter contains precious metals, can easily be removed from its vehicle, and is difficult to trace, making it a desirable target for thieves.  The average scrap price for catalytic converters currently varies between $300 and $1,500, depending on the model and type of precious metal component.

The investigation revealed that Downpipe Depot & Recycling LLC (“Downpipe Depot”), which had a warehouse on Park Avenue in East Hartford, purchased stolen catalytic converters from a network of thieves, including Rodriguez, and then transported and sold the catalytic converters to recycling businesses in New York and New Jersey.  Business records seized during the investigation revealed that Rodriguez was one of Downpipe Depot’s largest suppliers of stolen catalytic converters.  Between January 2021 and June 2022, Downpipe Depot paid Rodriguez $411,845 for catalytic converters.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.  Judge Nagala scheduled sentencing for November 18.

Rodriguez was arrested on November 15, 2023.  He is released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.

This investigation is being led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), and the East Hartford Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren C. Clark and A. Reed Durham.

Updated June 27, 2024