3 CA Family Members Plead Guilty to $38M Catalytic Converter Theft Conspiracy

catalytic-converter-theft-ring-CA-NJ

Two brothers and their mother were part of a nationwide ring that shipped stolen converters to New Jersey for sale to a metal refinery.

Three Sacramento, CA, family members pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to charges related to their participation in a nationwide catalytic converter theft conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced in a news release.

Brothers Tou Sue Vang, 32, and Andrew Vang, 28, and their mother, Monica Moua, 58, all pleaded guilty to conspiring to transport stolen catalytic converters from California to New Jersey in return for more than $38 million in wired payments. Tou Sue Vang also pleaded guilty to an additional 39 charges related to money laundering.

The trio are not yet scheduled to be sentenced. Andrew Vang and Monica Moua each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The 40 counts to which Tou Sue Vang pleaded guilty carry various maximum penalties per count ranging from 20 years in prison to five years in prison, and fines that range from $500,000 to $250,000 per count or twice the gross gain or loss from the crimes.

According to court documents, the defendants operated an unlicensed business from their residence in Sacramento, where they bought stolen catalytic converters from local thieves and shipped them to DG Auto Parts LLC in New Jersey for processing. They sold more than $38 million in stolen catalytic converters to DG Auto.

In October and November 2022, law enforcement executed a nationwide, coordinated takedown of leaders and associates of a national network of thieves, dealers and processors for their roles selling stolen catalytic converters to a metal refinery for more than $600 million. Nine of 21 defendants were charged in the Eastern District of California.

In 2022, approximately 1,600 catalytic converters were reportedly stolen in California each month, and California accounts for 37% of all catalytic converter theft claims nationwide.

Also charged in the 2022 indictment were co-defendants Navin Khanna, aka Lovin Khanna, 40; Tinu Khanna, aka Gagan Khanna, 36; Daniel Dolan, 45; Chi Mo, aka David Mo, 37; Wright Louis Mosley, 50; and Ishu Lakra, 25, all of New Jersey, who operated DG Auto in multiple locations in New Jersey. According to court documents, they knowingly purchased stolen catalytic converters and, through a "de-canning" process, extracted the precious metal powders from the catalytic core. DG Auto sold the precious metal powders it processed from California and elsewhere to a metal refinery for more than $600 million. 

This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and the IRS Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, the Sacramento Police Department, the Davis Police Department, the Auburn Police Department, the Livermore Police Department and the San Bernardino County Sherriff's Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica M.A. Alegria is prosecuting the case.

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