FBI Special Agent Joseph Callahan talks about arrests in a chop shop operation during a news conference at One Government Center in Toledo. Officials named the investigation 'Operation Semi Load.'
Five Toledo men were arrested in Toledo today and one is being sought following simultaneous raids of two businesses and a residence, authorities said.
The men are accused in a series of thefts of about $2 million worth of tractor-trailer rigs and their cargo during a four-month period in 2012 in the tri-state area.
Michael Wymer, 54; Michael Deutsch, 37; Gary Wymer, 55; Terrance Wymer, 28, and Shawn Wymer, 27, were arrested and charged with unlawaful transport of stolen property in inter-state commerce, according to the FBI. An arrest warrant with the same charge was also issued for Robert Debolt, Jr., 47.
Michael Deutsch, 37; Shawn Wymer, 27; Terrance Wymer, 28; Mike Wymer, 54; and Gary Wymer, 55, were arrested and charged with transportation of stolen property, according to the FBI. An arrest warrant with the same charge was also issued for Robert Debolt, Jr., 47.
The arrests were announced at a news conference at 11 a.m. at One Government Center by Major Michael Black of the Ohio State Highway Patrol; supervisory special agent Joseph Callahan of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Capt. Brad Weis of the Toledo Police Department, and assistant U.S. attorney Ava Dustin.
"They'd chop them and sell them for scrap," said Mr. Joseph Callahan, of the FBI's field office in Cleveland.
The raids were conducted about 8:30 a.m. at suspected "chop shops" at 2322 Consaul St. and at 642 Sterling St., as well as at Mike Wymer's residence at 661 Sterling, the FBI said.
The arrests were a result of a four-month investigation that started last September and involved the Ohio Highway Patrol, the FBI, Toledo police, National Insurance Criminal Bureau, and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The $2 million-plus worth of semis, trailers, and cargo such as ATVs, motorcycles, crushers, front-end loaders, and dump trucks were taken in alleged incidents from September through December of 2012 in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, according to the FBI. The group is suspected of involvement in a conspiracy to steal trailers in nine towns in Ohio, six in Indiana, and three in Michigan, the FBI said.
"This was a highly organized group that stole from people throughout the region," said U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach in a written statement released by the FBI.
Mr Callahan said the ring of suspects "extends much wider" and encouraged anyone who might be involved in it to turn themselves in.
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