What started as a basic investigation into some stolen motorcycles in Southern California ballooned into a three-month probe that culminated this week with nine arrests and the recovery of dozens of bikes, authorities announced Friday.
On Thursday, prosecutors charged Felipe Galicia, 40, of Monrovia, Daniel Hernandez, 21, of El Monte, and Victor Coca, 45, of Los Angeles, with more than 30 felonies, including operating a chop shop and receiving stolen property.
Authorities say the three were the masterminds behind an elaborate motorcycle theft ring that included at least six other men. Together, the group would allegedly target specific motorcycles, steal them and then haul them to Galicia’s shop in Duarte.
Bikes were chopped for parts or their Vehicle Identification Numbers were changed then the bikes were resold, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said.
The team recovered 33 motorcycles and 58 engines and frames. Authorities estimated the group stole up to $300,000 worth of motorcycles in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
A three-month investigation by the Task Force for Regional Auto Theft Prevention -- which is comprised of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, sheriff’s department, the LAPD and the California Highway Patrol, among others -- concluded Wednesday, officials said.
Galicia, Hernandez and Coca face up to 29 years and eight months in prison if convicted on all charges.
Six other men who were allegedly involved in the ring were also charged and face up to 20 years and eight months in prison on 32 felony counts.
It was the latest motorcycle theft ring to be taken down in the L.A. region recently. On Wednesday, the California Highway Patrol announced they had concluded a two-year investigation with dozens of arrests and nearly $1 million in motorcycle equipment recovered.