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Four indicted Thursday in $200,000 theft ring

From left, Deputy Chris White, Sheriff David Greene and Constable John Anderle display loot. From left, Deputy Chris White, Sheriff David Greene and Constable John Anderle display loot. Fou r men , i nc lud i ng one from Miner va, were indicted by a Milam County Grand Jury Thursday in connection with a criminal ring investigators said stole $200,000 worth of four wheelers and other vehicles.

Indicted for theft of property ($1,500 to $20,000) and engaging in organized criminal activity were: Paul Joseph Lara, 33, Cameron (2 counts of theft); Raymond John Lara, 27, Cameron; and Eugenio Davilla Hernandez, 41, Temple.

Jaime Muñoz Castellanos, 42, Minerva, was indicted for theft of property ($20,000 to $100,000) and engaging in organized criminal activity.

The series of arrests, in May and June, came after the Milam County Sheriff’s Department set out “bait” in the form of a trailer and ATV on US 77 in an attempt to catch thieves who had been operating since October, 2009.

Deputy Chris White said the bait vehicle was taken and its GPS tracking device led law enforcement agencies to a location in Temple which was raided after a search warrant was obtained.

The Lara brothers were arrested during that raid. An additional suspect, identified as Hernandez, fled the scene. He was arrested two weeks later.

The investigation continued and, in June, Castellanos was arrested and charged in connection with the thefts.

White said Castellanos and Manuel Landeros of Chilton were identified as “fences” for the theft ring.

Landeros was also charged. His case is expected to be brought before a subsequent grand jury session, White said.

In the ensuing months investigators began to realize how large the operation had been.

Sheriff David Greene received information leading to recovery of about $200,000 in stolen items, many taken directly from dealerships.

Agencies who cleared thefts as a result of the investigation, in addition to Milam County, included the Austin, Bell and McLennan County sheriff ’s departments and the police departments of Cameron, Robinson, Franklin, Belton, Waco, Troy and Bruceville Eddy.

“In most cases the ignitions were replaced so there was no appearance the item was stolen,” White said. “The seller asked for about half what would be spent on a new unit.”


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2010-11-25 digital edition



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