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Press Release

Leader of Catalytic Converter Crew Pleads Guilty; Final Defendant to Plead

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Theft crew responsible for an estimated $2 million in losses across Massachusetts and New Hampshire during 2022 and 2023

BOSTON – The leader of a regional organized theft crew who orchestrated the thefts of catalytic converters from nearly 500 vehicles across the region, multiple jewelry store robberies and the stealing of ATMs pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston.

Rafael Davila, a/k/a “Robbin Hood,” 35, of Springfield, Mass, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce; interstate transportation of stolen property; conspiracy commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit bank theft; and bank theft. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for July 30, 2024. 

In April 2023, Rafael Davila was arrested and charged along with six others in connection with the theft, transportation and sale of stolen catalytic converters taken from nearly 500 vehicles across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 2022 through April 2023. It is believed that a significant number of additional thefts have not been identified or were not ever reported to law enforcement.

According to court filings, there has been a precipitous decline in catalytic converter thefts reported in Massachusetts as a result of the April 2023 takedown – with less than 15 reported incidents of catalytic converter theft over the past 11 months following the arrests, in comparison to the hundreds of thefts reported during the nine-month period prior.

Catalytic converter theft has become a nationwide problem due to the high-valued precious metals they contain – some of which are more valuable than gold, with black-market prices being more than $1,000 each in recent years. The theft of a vehicle's catalytic converter results in damage that renders the vehicle inoperable – both mechanically and legally under EPA regulations – until properly replaced.

The crew was led by Davila, who engaged in catalytic converter thefts and burglaries on a full-time basis – committing thefts multiple nights per week for upwards of eight hours a night. Davila was responsible for the planning of and transportation to each targeted theft – using his vehicle, determining price values for stolen converters and purchasing needed materials. Davila maintained meticulous notes accounting for the locations that he and his co-conspirators had targeted and the number of catalytic converters that had been stolen, including the makes and models and when they were dropped off for sale.

The thefts resulted in losses of approximately $5,000 per vehicle with certain trucks costing over $10,000 to repair. This amounts to an approximate $2 million in losses suffered by more than 300 separate victims who were forced to deal with their vehicles being disabled for potentially weeks on end. The more than 300 victims included businesses and individuals across Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire, including a food pantry, automotive businesses, tradesmen, a bakery, single parents, a home healthcare provider and the elderly. Some businesses were repeatedly targeted on multiple nights.

Once in possession of the stolen catalytic converters, the crew would then sell them to Jose Torres, who would accumulate stolen catalytic converters from multiple theft crews and then in turn sell them to scrap dealers – transacting approximately $30,000 to $80,000 in stolen catalytic converters per week. Torres then sold stolen catalytic converters to scrap dealers who have since been charged federally for interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering in the District of Connecticut, the Eastern District of California and Northern District of Oklahoma. Rafael Davila admitted to conspiring with Torres to transact in the stolen catalytic converters.

In addition to the catalytic converter thefts, Davila also admitted to conspiring to steal from ATMs of federally insured banks in Massachusetts on three separate occasions in December 2022. This conspiracy involved the use of stolen trucks and chains to rip the ATMs from the ground and gain access to the vault.

Rafael Davila also admitted to committing burglaries of two New Hampshire jewelry stores on Jan. 12, 2023, and the theft of a trailer on Dec. 14, 2022. Davila admitted to breaking into the stores by smashing the glass doors and breaking the jewelry cases and stealing the jewelry. The combined total value of the jewelry stolen during the burglaries was determined to be over $137,000, with each store facing approximately $10,000 in costs to repair the resulting damage.

Rafael Davila is the seventh and final defendant charged in Operation Cut & Run to plead guilty. All six of his co-defendants have pleaded guilty - three of whom have since been sentenced, each to more than three years in prison. The three remaining defendants are awaiting sentencing.

The charge of conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of interstate transportation of stolen property provides for a sentence of up to 10 years, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to commit bank theft provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of bank theft provides for a sentence of up to 10 years, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the proceeds, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; John E. Mawn Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police; and Kevin Gallagher, Director of Operations for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Northeast Region made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was also provided by the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Districts of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Northern District of Oklahoma and the Eastern District of California; Homeland Security Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office; and the New England State Police Information Network. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Mallard of the Organized Crime & Gang Unit is prosecuting the case.

Over 70 local police departments in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut contributed to this investigation through the submission of their investigations of catalytic converter thefts in their jurisdiction. The Massachusetts Police Departments contributing to the investigation were Abington, Acton, Andover, Auburn, Bedford, Bellingham, Beverly, Billerica, Burlington, Bridgewater, Canton, Carver, Chelmsford, Concord, Cranston, East Hampton, Easton, Fitchburg, Framingham, Franklin, Gardner, Hampton, Hanover, Haverhill, Hingham, Holliston, Holyoke, Hudson, Ipswich, Lawrence, Leominster, Lynn, Malden, Mansfield, Medford, Marlborough, Methuen, Middleton, Milford, Millbury, Needham, Newton, Northborough, Norwell, Norwood, Peabody, Pembroke, Plymouth, Randolph, Rockland, Sharon, Shrewsbury, Springfield, Sterling, Sturbridge, Sudbury, Tyngsborough, Walpole, Waltham, Watertown, West Bridgewater, Weymouth, Wilmington, Woburn and Worcester.  The New Hampshire Police Departments contributing to the investigation were Bow, Concord, Derry, Hooksett, Hudson, Londonderry, Manchester, Salem, Windham. The Connecticut Police Departments contributing to the investigation were South Windsor and Windsor.

Updated April 17, 2024

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