‘Major’ crime ring taken down
Twenty people have been indicted and a dozen — some with links to criminal gangs — arrested in connection with what San Marcos Police are calling a “major crime ring” accused of stealing heavy equipment, vehicles and other property.
Police said the case goes back to August 2017 when, investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle, police discovered a trailer that had been reported stolen. The probe, led by SMPD Detective Patrick Aubry, uncovered more stolen equipment in the following two months including a Kubota excavator valued at more than $50,000.
Police say the the investigation uncovered a “large group of individuals responsible for locating, stealing, transporting, storing and selling stolen items across the state, some for cash and some for “significant quantities” of methamphetamine.
Some of the stolen equipment came from construction sites and some from burglaries. In addition to heavy equipment, vehicles, trailers and tools, the loot also included electronics, jewelry, wheels and tires, a high-end mountain bicycle, a commercial grade power washing rig, firearms and construction equipment.
In all, more than $765,000 worth of equipment was stolen, and “hundreds of thousands of dollars” worth has been recovered. The case also led to the seizure of marijuana and methamphetamine, as well as personal information — names, addresses, ID numbers, credit card numbers and bank account information of individuals.
Three of those indicted for first-degree felony theft and engaging in organized criminal activity were arrested in San Marcos. J.D. Ross, 35, and Christopher Blake Thomas, 35, were both arrested in the 1600 block of Aquarena Springs Drive. Ross is a San Marcos resident while Thomas listed an Austin address. Adam Ray Lawrence, 28, of Red Rock was also arrested here.
Others in custody are William Shane Lawrence, 41 of Kyle; Sonya Elayne Brown, 38, of Kyle; Texas Ross Wiley, 45, of Fentress; Marco Antonio Castilla, 32, of Austin; Arturo Corona-Reyes, 33, of Austin; Ronnie Dale Beck, 48, of Austin; Randy Lee Mulkins, 55, of Round Rock, Wesley Don Welch, 40, of Manor and Anthony Todd Voight, 52, of Red Rock.
Indicted but not yet in custody are Rick Alan Linda, Kristy Gabrielle Ybarra, Dean Edward Swenson, Jess McCoy Hyatt IV, Gerald Douglas Searcy and Stewart Michael Wells.
“This multi-year investigation represents the tenacity of one detective,” SMPD Commander Kelly Bomersbach said. “Through Detective Aubry’s persistence and hard work, a vast criminal ring has been exposed.” She noted the investigation received “invaluable support from area crime analysts and other law enforcement agencies.”
Agencies that were eventually involved in the case included Sheriff’s Offices in Hays, Caldwell, Travis, Guadalupe, Live Oak, Bastrop, Victoria and Williamson counties as well as police departments in Austin, Freer, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock and Taylor, the DPS, the Central Texas Auto Theft Task Force and the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Recovered property includes seven pieces of heavy equipment, seven trailers, two lawnmowers, one Ducati motorcycle, a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu and 2008 and 2013 Dodge pickups, four welders and generators, one ATV, one Apple Macbook, one bicycle, four custom tires and a men’s silver ring.