Press release - Chop Shop Operation & Recovered Stolen Vehicles

Published 3/22/2010 (all press releases for this day)

John Crombach
Chief of Police
Oxnard Police Department

R. Jason Benites
Assistant Chief

Scott Whitney
Assistant Chief



INCIDENT: Chop Shop Operation & Recovered Stolen Vehicles
DATE/TIME: 3/18/10, 22:45
LOCATION: 400 Blk. E. Olive Street, Oxnard
SUSPECT(S): Thomas Cortez, age 47, Oxnard resident
Mario Durazo, age 39, Oxnard resident
Jose Esquivel, age 47, Oxnard resident
Emmanuel Esquivel, age 22, Oxnard resident
PREPARED BY: Det. Patrick Dolan, Auto Theft Investigator, (805) 385-7755
Det. Patrick Dolan, Auto Theft Investigator, (805) 385-7755


On 3/18/10 at approximately 2245 hours, Oxnard officers responded to a possible theft of an auto tow dolly from the closed U-Haul rental yard at 3020 Saviers Rd., Oxnard. The suspects fled prior to the arrival of officers. Officers searching the area located the stolen tow dolly in the alley of the 400 block of E. Olive St. as Thomas Cortez and Mario Durazo tried to walk away. Cortez and Durazo were detained by officers and the subsequent investigation determined that a 1995 Nissan pick-up that the suspects had used to steal the tow dolly was also stolen in Oxnard on 3/17/10. Further, a 2002 Ford F-150 pick-up truck that they were attempting to load onto the stolen tow dolly in the alley was stolen in Oxnard on 3/12/10. Cortez was arrested for auto theft, a felony. Durazo was also arrested for auto theft as well for being in possession of a controlled substance (a felony) and being under the influence of a controlled substance (a misdemeanor).

Further investigation revealed that the Ford truck had been stripped of its major components including the engine, transmission, hood, and seats. These missing parts and numerous other car parts were located in and around the residence behind which Cortez and Durazo were detained. Investigators from the Ventura County Auto Theft Task Force contacted the residents and determined that there was a chop shop operation in place at the residence. Two of the residents, Jose Esquivel and his son, Emmanuel Esquivel, were arrested for auto theft, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime, and operating a chop shop – all felonies. All four suspects were booked into Ventura County Jail.

An investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Patrick Dolan at (805) 385-7755 or Crime Stoppers at (805) 385-8255.

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   Mar 2010