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11 indicted for allegedly operating auto-theft ring that stole more than $3M-worth of vehicles, other property

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Posted at 4:29 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 18:29:37-04

DENVER — Eleven people have been indicted for allegedly operating an auto-theft ring that stole more than $3 million-worth of vehicles and other property, the Denver District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

The ring allegedly stole at least 130 motor vehicles, including camping trailers that they then lived in. The group also stole firearms and committed identity theft across the Denver metro area to support their methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl habits as well as support their lifestyles, the district attorney's office said.

According to the distirct attorney's office, the ring would allegedly use electronic key programmers to defeat authorized key fobs. The group would then allegedly substitute after-market key fobs to steal new and high-end cars. The ring would burglarize auto dealerships and repair shops to access keys that they would then use to steal vehicles, the district attorney's office explained.

The group would also drive "unpredictably and dangerously to flesh out undercover law enforcement officers," the district attorney's office said. If they were confronted by law enforcement, the group would allegedly drive erratically, including ramming vehicles, driving over obstacles, driving at high speeds and entering oncoming lanes of traffic.

The group would use social media to coordinate their activities, conduct sales, evade capture and arrange bond, the district attorney's office said in a press release.

A Denver grand jury indicted the 11 individuals on a total of 74 counts for their alleged crime spree, which ran from February 4, 2021, through May 11, 2022.

The 11 defendants are:

  • Esequiel Gomez, 33
  • Sergio Casimiro-Mejia, 24
  • Susana Garcia, 23
  • Olivia Talamantes, 29
  • Jonathan Valdivia III, 19
  • Fabian Varela-Castillo, 28
  • Jonathan Baeza Delgado, 29
  • Karina Carbajal, 25
  • Dianna Laura Gaucin, 19
  • Felix Lopez, 34
  • Debbie Rachel Valdivia, 22

All were arrested except for Esequiel Gomez, who is currently at-large, according to the district attorney's office.

The individuals were variously charged with several crimes, including:

  • Violating Colorado's Organized Crime Control Act
  • Aggravated motor vehicle theft in the first degree
  • Possession of a weapon by a previous offender
  • Possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance
  • Cybercrimes
  • Identity theft
  • Theft
  • First-degree assault
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Vehicular assault

The Colorado Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force (CMATT) led the investigation into the ring. The cases will be prosecuted in Denver District Court.