Vehicle Theft Task Force Recovers Over $1 Million Worth of Stolen Vehicles, Arrests Four Suspects Following Months-Long Investigation

A lengthy investigation into a criminal group buying and selling stolen vehicles resulted in the arrest of four suspects and the recovery of multiple stolen vehicles in Arizona.

The five-month investigation was led by the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s (AZDPS) Vehicle Theft Task Force (VTTF) and focused on a group of suspects purchasing stolen vehicles with illegitimate vehicle identification numbers (VIN) from the East Coast and shipping them to Arizona to be sold. Detectives identified the suspects as 33-year-old Rickey Austin, 33-year-old Tyquan Jackson Wilson and 35-year-old Joshua Carra, all residents of Phoenix.

The investigation resulted in the recovery and seizure of the following:

  • 19 stolen vehicles (worth approximately $1.2 million)
  • 13 pounds of cocaine
  • 4 pounds of Adderall
  • 20,000 fentanyl pills
  • 5 ounces of MDMA
  • 1 ounces of Xanax
  • 82 pounds of illegal mushrooms
  • 4 ounces of methamphetamine
  • $110,000 cash
  • Several firearms

During the investigation, VTTF detectives learned the suspects were ordering stolen vehicles from a vehicle theft ring based on the East Coast and working together to coordinate shipment of the vehicles to Arizona. Using fraudulent out-of-state titles, the suspects then sold the vehicles at prices substantially below market value to victims in Arizona.

Some of the stolen vehicles included a Ferrari California, Mercedes-Benz AMG SUV, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, and numerous Dodge sports cars and pickup trucks.

Austin, Wilson and Carra face numerous charges, including theft of means of transportation, trafficking stolen property, conspiracy, and fraudulent schemes.

Detectives also arrested 24-year-old Dayanella Galdos Abarca, an employee at a third-party MVD service provider, on charges related to conspiracy and fraudulent schemes.

Several additional investigations were opened as a result of this case, yielding further arrests for possession of stolen vehicles, drug possession and weapons charges.

Due to the rise in this type of criminal activity, the AZDPS VTTF encourages anyone shopping for a vehicle using websites like Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp to first check the vehicle’s history thoroughly by purchasing a full vehicle history report. Detectives also encourage buyers to question any deals that seem too good to be true and do thorough research to verify the vehicle is legitimate.

AZDPS VTTF is continuing this investigation and working with out-of-state partners to crack down on this stolen vehicle ring. Funded by the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority (AATA), the Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force (VTTF) is administered and led by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The VTTF is a statewide resource comprised of multiple law enforcement partners working in a coordinated effort to leverage human and capital resources to disrupt, dismantle, apprehend and prosecute individuals and criminal organizations that profit from the theft of motor vehicle related crimes.