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Press Release

Father and Two Sons Indicted and Arrested for Conspiracy to Transport Stolen Catalytic Converters and Money Laundering

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

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging three men with conspiring to transport stolen property interstate and money laundering.

According to court documents, Jaime A. Pérez-Hernández, Jaime Pérez-Ramírez, and Jesiel Pérez-Hernández conspired to purchase catalytic converters that were stolen from vehicles in Puerto Rico and transport them in interstate commerce to sell them to entities in New Jersey and Massachusetts, all in order to enrich themselves.

Catalytic converters are a component of an automotive vehicle’s exhaust device that reduces the toxic gas and pollutants from a vehicle’s internal combustion engine into safe emissions. To do so, catalytic converters use precious metals in their center, or “core”, that are regularly targeted for theft due to the high value of these metals, especially palladium, platinum, and rhodium. Some of these precious metals are more valuable per ounce than gold, and their value has been increasing in recent years. The black-market price for catalytic converters can exceed $1,000 each, depending on the type of vehicle, the source state, and other factors. Thus, the theft of catalytic converters has become increasingly popular because of their value, widespread availability, and relative ease to steal.

Beginning in October 2020, the defendants used Facebook to advertise the purchase of catalytic converters from the public in Puerto Rico. The defendants used their two metal recycling companies, Borinken Catalytics LLC and Perez Metal Recycle, to purchase stolen catalytic converters.

After amassing catalytic converters, the Conspirators used private commercial shipping companies to regularly transport and sell the catalytic converters to various catalytic converter extraction companies in the continental United States, who in turn extracted and shipped the precious metals to refineries. The defendants earned more than $3,000,000 from the sale of catalytic converters between October 2020 and the date of the indictment.

Defendants Jaime A. Pérez-Hernández and Jaime Pérez-Ramírez face one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendants received wire transfers, cash, and checks for the bulk shipments of catalytic converters, which they withdrew and transferred to conceal the stolen catalytic converter proceeds.

“Amidst a rise in catalytic converter thefts in Puerto Rico and in the continental United States, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with the Justice Department have executed investigations and arrest operations in order to deter this multimillion-dollar catalytic converter theft trend,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will continue to work alongside the FBI and our state and local partners to disrupt criminal conspiracies like this one that target innocent people.”

“The theft and resale of catalytic converters is a serious crime that not only harms the environment but also undermines the safety and security of our communities,” said Joseph González, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office. “This coordinated effort spanned multiple states and involved numerous law enforcement agencies. I am proud of the tireless efforts of our agents and law enforcement partners in bringing these criminals to justice.”

The defendants are scheduled for their initial court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Héctor Ramos-Vega of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy to transport stolen property interstate, and up to 20 years for the money laundering conspiracy. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI is in charge of the investigation of the case, with the collaboration of the following agencies: Puerto Rico Police Bureau, PR Department of Treasury (Hacienda), Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, Bayamón Municipal Police, Carolina Municipal Police, the PR Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, and the US Postal Inspection Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys E. Giovannie Mercado, Carlos Romo-Aledo, and Cesar Rivera-Díaz from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico; and Cesar S. Rivera-Giraud, Trial Attorney from the Violent Crime & Racketeering Section, Criminal Division, are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Updated March 20, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 2024-021