Pair nabbed in SS may be part of cargo theft ring

Local, state, federal authorities involved after two arrested in truck-trailer theft

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

July 2, 2007 - Two Florida men were being held in custody Monday morning for stealing a truck and trailer loaded with televisions from Love's Travel Center in Franklin County Sunday morning.

Sheriff's investigators and auto task force authorities nabbed them Sunday evening at Wal-Mart parking lot in Sulphur Springs after a stakeout on FM 3019.

Authorities believe the pair may be connected to a cargo theft ring which has targeted truck-tractor trailer rigs traveling along and near the interstate in recent months.

"With the help of a caring, concerned citizen in the community and the quick actions on the part of all of the officers involved, we were able to get a jump on this case and get the folks responsible," Hopkins County Sheriff Butch Adams said Monday morning, of the collaborative efforts resulting in arrest and recovery of the rig and load of plasma TVs.

Mayker Sanchez, 29, of Miami, Fla., and Nelson Torres, 28, of Cape Coral, Fla., were both charged at 8:16 p.m. Sunday with first-degree felony theft of property.

The truck-trailer out of Pennsylvania was reported stolen from Love's in Mount Vernon Sunday morning. At 3:15 p.m. Sunday, Hopkins County sheriff's investigators received a call from a poultry farm on FM 3019 where the truck had been abandoned. Sheriff's officers were able to confirm the truck was the rig stolen in Mount Vernon.

Sheriff's officers contacted Mount Vernon and Franklin County authorities and notified them that HCSO Investigators Lewis Tatum and Jace Anglin, along with Texas Department of Public Safety Motor Vehicle Theft Division Investigators Rex Wilemon and Rusty Hughes, would be conducting surveillance in the area in an effort to catch the people who abandoned it.

The investigators disabled the truck so that it would not immediately start and waited. Around 7:30 p.m., the investigators saw a man get out of a silver Chevrolet Impala and attempt to start the big rig. When he couldn't get it started, he returned to the car, also occupied by another man, and left in the car.

Anglin stayed behind with the big rig and load of plasma TVS while Tatum followed the Impala, notifying the DPS investigators he was pursuing the car. State troopers joined in behind the car on State Highway 11 east between Como and Pickton and followed the vehicle west to Sulphur Springs. The car pulled into Wal-Mart parking lot, where one man got out of the car. The investigators performed a felony take-down in the parking lot.

The man who exited the vehicle, Nelson Torres, who also uses the alias Francisco Torres Nelson, was identified by a worker at the poultry farm as the man who parked the truck on the property.

Further investigation into the incident revealed information which is expected to tie at least one of the two Florida men to recent cargo thefts.

Investigator Jeremy Massey with Northeast Texas Auto Task Force became involved in the ongoing investigation this morning, as it could be connected to some open cases he is working in the area, including the cargo thefts. Following the conclusion of this phase of the case, Special Agent Jim Spiropoulos with the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be taking over.

Hopkins County justices of the peace Monday morning were awaiting an interpreter to effectively communicate with the accused men, who were born in Cuba, so they could arraign the pair on the theft charge.

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