Feds raid homes, businesses in NJ as part of $545M catalytic converter theft ring
Federal agents have arrested several New Jersey residents as part of a massive, nationwide catalytic converter theft ring.
A total of 21 people across five states face federal charges outlined in two separate indictments filed in California and Oklahoma, as first reported by Patch.
Federal prosecutors are seeking over $545 million in forfeited assets.
All five New Jersey residents arrested were mentioned in the indictment filed in California, while Monmouth County resident Navin Khanna was mentioned in both.
The 39-year-old from Holmdel, who also goes by Lovin Khanna, was named among the operation’s accused leaders.
He was joined by 35-year-old Tinu “Gagan” Khanna, 44-year-old Daniel Dolan, 37-year-old Chi “David” Mo, 50-year-old Wright Louis Mosley (Senior) and 24-year-old Ishu Lakra — all accused of illegal operations running out of DG Auto Parts, with its headquarters in Freehold.
The company’s website said it is “the leading buyer of catalytic converters & DPFs in NJ.”
'Operation Heavy Metal'
Over a three-year span ending this month, the DG Auto crew received from the West Coast $38 million in shipments of what they knew were stolen converters, according to federal investigators.
They are accused of removing the precious metal powders from each part, before selling the substances to a metal refinery for a total of more than $545 million.
Catalytic converters are regularly targeted for theft due to the high value of precious metals in their center, or “core” — in particular, palladium, platinum and rhodium, as outlined by federal officials.
The black-market price for catalytic converters can be more than $1,000 each, depending on the type of vehicle, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Navin Khanna was among nine defendants named in a 40‑count indictment by a federal grand jury in California, with charges including conspiracy to transport stolen catalytic converters and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
He was also among 13 defendants named by a federal grand jury in Oklahoma, for receiving stolen catalytic converters from a different ring in that part of the country.
Social media trail
On Wednesday, FBI agents were seen raiding a Bucks Mill Road home in Holmdel.
A 7-acre property at 3 Bucks Mill Road — with six bedrooms, 6 ½ baths and a detached 6 car garage — sold for $1.7 million last year.
Its current owner is listed as Amandeep Khanna, while NJ voting records show Navin Khanna lives there, as well.
Last month, an Instagram account held by Lovin Khanna, with username “DG_cars_NJ,” shared a photo of a catalytic converter necklace. It was captioned with a winking emoji and the name, Aman Khanna.
Two weeks before the federal sting was announced, the same account shared a short video clip, captioned “When police escorts you back to your junk yard after dropping box full of powder on side of the road.”
In addition to DG Auto's main address in Freehold, Blacey's U-Pick Auto Parts in Wrightstown was linked to the company online, including on the same Instagram account held by Khanna.
Another of the NJ defendants, Dolan, shared several photos in April to his own Facebook page, asking if anyone had catalytic converters for sale.
In June, a Facebook user by the name “Charlie Chan” posted about being ripped off by DG Auto, for a six-figure amount.
Along with screenshots of an apparent text exchange, Chan said “Let it be known to the world that Lovin Khanna of DG Auto/Catalytic in NJ refuses to pay the balance he owes me which is just under $182k. This is Grand Larceny. Lovin blocked me last night after I gave him months to make it right.”
'Not victimless crimes'
Customs and Border Protection and the Port Authority Police Department of New York and New Jersey were among law enforcement thanked for their participation in the sprawling operation.
“This level of organized criminal activity is extremely costly and detrimental to victims and taxpayers – organized theft groups are sophisticated networks that profit from illegally obtained goods and are often involved in various other crimes further funded by proceeds from illicit operations,” ICE Acting Deputy Director Patrick Lechleitner said in a written statement.
He continued, “We cannot overemphasize enough that these are not victimless crimes, and that the increased number of these crimes poses a very legitimate threat to the U.S. economy.”
Other law enforcement around the state were credited in helping round up the accused crew, including: State Police, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Morris Township Police, Springfield Police, Howell Police, Warren Township Police, Freehold Borough Police, Middletown Police, Marlboro Police, Manalapan Police, Burlington Police and Willingboro Police.
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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