Catalytic converter theft ring connected to Texas deputy’s death off duty
Five people were arrested with ties to the three men charged in Deputy Darren Almendarez’s death
By Amanda Spence
PEARLAND, Texas — The off-duty death of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Almendarez has been connected to a catalytic converter theft ring, federal investigators say.
During a large-scale, multi-agency investigation, five people were arrested who were fencing stolen property for the three men charged in Deputy Almendarez’s death, reports KHOU 11.
Deputy Almendarez lost his life in March when he attempted to stop people from stealing the catalytic converter from his personal vehicle. Three individuals are being charged with capital murder for his death. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for two of the men, Fredarious Clark and Joshua Stewart, but not the third, Frederick Tardy, who is 17.
“One of our own was lost due to this type of crime. That's when it's heartfelt and you want to do more to try to get these people,” HCSO Deputy Thomas Gilliland said.
Law enforcement seized 1,450 catalytic converters and around $840,000 from the properties that were raided.
Neighbors in the area say the homes that were raided belong to two families with children. One neighbor mentioned he’d witnessed box trucks carrying metal products in the driveway around once a month.