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Texas Game Wardens Bust Organized Crime Ring, Recover $275,000 Worth of Stolen Watercraft

Crime Ring Texas Game Wardens
Getty Images: Pedro Pardo

Texas Wardens make major case out of simple investigation.

The Texas Game Wardens recovered $275,000 worth of stolen vehicles, mostly watercraft, and smashed an interstate theft ring after a nearly two-year investigation that has resulted in felony charges against three people.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced the results of the multi-agency investigation in a press release on their website. In total, 27 stolen watercraft, mostly jet skis, and trailers were recovered. The case started simply. TPWD Sergeant Jonathan Griffin, who works the department's marine theft investigation unit, received a tip from the TPWD office in La Marque, Texas that someone was titling jet skis in their name. The thing that caught the attention of investigators was the low purchase prices of the watercraft.

Investigators were able to tie this suspect to a second person in Florida who was doing the same thing on a tip from a Florida County tax office. The more they dug, the more investigators found. They soon figured out at least three people were involved in stealing jet skis across Texas. The group then made fake titles with false identification numbers before selling them in multiple states.

"After recovering 27 stolen vessels and trailers, we filed charges and arrested the three suspects for theft and engaging in organized crime," Griffin said in the press release. "While the charges are pending, we are working to locate and recover more stolen jet skis and boats that may have been sold using the same scheme. It has been satisfying to be able to help get this property back to the rightful owners."

Also participating in the case were law enforcement agencies in Alabama and Florida, as well as the Galveston County Auto Crimes Task Force.

Griffin's efforts in this huge case have not gone unnoticed either. The warden has received a nomination for investigator of the year from the International Association of Marine Investigators. We'll keep an eye on this case and bring new information as it proceeds through the courts.

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Texas Game Wardens Bust Organized Crime Ring, Recover $275,000 Worth of Stolen Watercraft