Texas Game Wardens Expose Crime Ring, Return $275K in Stolen Property
Finally, the incredible investigative work of our awesome Texas Game Wardens has paid off.
What started off as a run-of-the-mill investigation into a series of boat title discrepancies, concluded this past summer with multiple felony charges against three individuals suspected of running an interstate theft ring and the recovery of over $275,000 worth of stolen watercraft and other vehicles," according to a press release shared by Texas Parks and Wildlife on Tuesday morning.
It was a two-year, detailed investigation into a suspected organized crime ring led by Sergeant Game Warden Jonathan Griffin of the Marine Theft Investigation Unit. His work was so notable, he has now been nominated for Investigator of the Year Award by the International Association of Marine Investigators.
Sergeant Griffin also sought to highlight that this investigation was not possible without the help of other agencies, as well.
“Considering that this is an international award I am really humbled to have been nominated. I am very grateful to the Galveston County Auto Crimes Task Force and the other agencies across Texas, Alabama, and Florida who assisted with the resources necessary to build a strong case to hand over to the district attorney’s office for prosecution.”
How did this two-year investigation begin?
They received a tip from the La Marque Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Office about someone having quite a few jet skis titled in their name. So what caused suspicion? These jet skis all had very low purchase prices.
And then later, a county tax office out of Florida also tipped off the Sergeant that this same individual, along with a second, were doing the same thing there.
This led to an ongoing investigation involving cooperation among multiple agencies which eventually led to the discovery of yet a third individual working with the others. They found the jet skis were stolen around Texas and were being re-titled and re-sold around the gulf states with "false titles and identification numbers."
All told, they recovered 27 jet skis and trailers. Charges were filed and the three suspects were arrested. They continue to search for more jet skis that have been reported as stolen.
The Galveston County District Attorney's Office is handling the case.
Kudos to all involved for recovering the stolen property and returning it to their rightful owners. Not to mention, thanks for keeping our gulf coast areas safer.
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