Thursday, October 8, 2009

Theft Ring Dismantled by County-Wide Operation

SALT LAKE CITY – Oct. 8, 2009 – This morning the Salt Lake City Police Department, West Jordan Police Department, West Valley City Police Department and investigators from the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office served six search warrants throughout the Salt Lake Valley and arrested several individuals involved in the theft of high-value metals. Western Metals Recycling and Kennecott Utah Copper Security also assisted with this operation and the underlying investigation.

Arrested were:
  • Guillermo Lopez
  • Jose Antonion Arteaga
  • Jose de Jesus-Ponce
  • Richard Montano
  • Guadalupe Lopez-Espinoza

Some of the arrested persons were employees of Western Metals Recycling. Their job was to retrieve scrap metal from Kennecott Utah Copper and take it to Western Metals Recycling. The suspects stole metals owned by Western Metals, and also diverted metals intended for Western Metals. Information reviewed by investigators indicates that this scheme has been ongoing for at least the last four years. Early estimates place the value of the loss at more than $700,000.

Possible charges include theft, money laundering, pattern of unlawful activity, and theft by deception – all felonies with the potential for significant prison sentences.

“This investigation started several months ago when Western Metals notified the metals theft task force of a possible ongoing criminal enterprise,” said Fred Burmester, Deputy District Attorney. “At that point several law enforcement agencies, Western Metals, Utah Metals, Kennecott and the DA’s Office began working together to investigate and bring about the dismantling of a major scrap metal theft ring.”

The District Attorney’s Office wishes to thank all those involved for the many hours and resources they dedicated to this cooperative effort.

Note: This press release was issued today by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office and reposted here as a courtesy.