Texas couple sentenced for semi truck tire theft conspiracy

The couple was ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution.

This week, a Texas husband and wife team were sentenced to federal prison and ordered to pay millions in restitution for their role in orchestrating a major commercial vehicle tire theft ring.

On January 8, San Antonio residents Joel Vargas, 34, and Angelica Vargas, 39, were both sentenced to federal prison by a judge in the Eastern District of Texas.

Joel Vargas, who was convicted in 2019 on two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property, conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, and tampering with a witness, was sentenced to 235 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,278,580.27. 

Angelica Vargas, who was also convicted of conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce in 2019, was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,071,344.38.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Texas described the truck tire theft scheme:

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According to information presented in court, on Dec. 17, 2017, over $38,000 in automotive tires were stolen during a burglary of the Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Center on Cardinal Drive in Beaumont, Texas.  The investigation of the burglary led to Joel and Angelica Vargas, who were part of a multi-participant conspiracy.  The conspiracy targeted commercial tire businesses, resulting in the theft, trafficking and sale of commercial tires, specifically 18-wheeler truck tires.  Over a 15-year period, the conspiracy targeted over 100 tire stores or concrete/gravel yards, where they would force entry into the premises, disable surveillance equipment, steal tires, and then remove the tires in rental moving van type vehicles.   Over 50 rental moving vehicles were stolen to facilitate the crimes.  Joel Vargas was also found guilty of threatening a trial witness.  In all, seven individuals were convicted as part of this investigation. 

  “This was a major theft ring that cost businesses a very large amount of money,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown.  “They operated all over the state of Texas.”