Couple receives prison sentences in Texas truck tire theft ring
January 16, 2020
•Land Line Staff
A married couple from San Antonio will serve prison time and must pay more than $2.2 million in restitution for their roles in a long-running, wide-ranging criminal conspiracy involving the theft, trafficking and resale of commercial truck tires.
Joel Vargas, 34, and Angelica Vargas, 39, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone on Jan. 8, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. Both were found guilty by a jury of federal violations following a five-day trial in March 2019.
Joel Vargas was convicted of two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property, conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, and tampering with a witness. He was sentenced to a total of 235 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of nearly $1.3 million. Angelica Vargas was convicted of conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of nearly $1.1 million.
“This was a major theft ring that cost businesses a very large amount of money,” U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown said in a news release. “They operated all over the state of Texas.”
According to information presented in court, on Dec. 17, 2017, more than $38,000 worth of automotive tires were stolen during a burglary of the Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Center on Cardinal Drive in Beaumont, Texas. The conspiracy targeted commercial tire businesses, resulting in the theft, trafficking and sale of commercial tires, specifically 18-wheeler truck tires.
Over a 15-year period, the conspiracy targeted over 100 tire stores or concrete and gravel yards, where they would force entry into the premises, disable surveillance equipment, steal tires, and then remove the tires in rental moving van type vehicles, according to the news release. Over 50 rental moving vehicles were stolen to facilitate the crimes. In all, seven individuals were convicted as part of this investigation.