Government Police/Fire

West Hartford Man Pleads Guilty in Connection with Catalytic Converter Thefts

A West Hartford man admitted he had a role in a catalytic converter theft ring and pleaded guilty to several charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

By Ronni Newton

A 28-year-old West Hartford man pleaded guilty Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Sarala V. Nagala in connection with his participation in a stolen catalytic converter trafficking ring.

According to a press release from the office of Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Yankee Rodriguez, aka “Yankster Rodriguez,” 28, of West Hartford, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property – which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years – as well as one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the state have continued to deal with cases of catalytic converter theft from motor vehicles. “A catalytic converter contains precious metals, can easily be removed from its vehicle, and is difficult to trace, making it a desirable target for thieves. The average scrap price for catalytic converters currently varies between $300 and $1,500, depending on the model and type of precious metal component,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In the case involving Rodriquez, court documents and statements made in court related to the investigation indicated that a network of thieves that included Rodriguez sold stolen catalytic converters to Downpipe Depot & Recycling LLC (“Downpipe Depot”), which had a warehouse on Park Avenue in East Hartford. The catalytic converters were then transported and sold to recycling businesses in New York and New Jersey, the release states.

Business records, seized in the investigation, indicate that Rodriquez, who was paid $411,845 for catalytic converters during the period January 2021 through June 2022, was one of the largest suppliers to Downpipe Depot.

Rodriguez was arrested on Nov. 15, 2023 in conjunction with this case, and was released on $100,000 bond pending his sentencing, which is scheduled for Nov. 18. 2024.

This investigation is being led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), and the East Hartford Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren C. Clark and A. Reed Durham.

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