Illicit metal, auto parts operation busted

Area police agencies and the FBI have teamed up to bust what they believe is a large-scale copper and auto parts theft operation at a recycling center on Carey Avenue near Pecos Road.

On Wednesday, about 50 officers were at ABC Recycling checking between 200 to 300 cars for stolen parts, Las Vegas police said. Law enforcement hauled off 10 cars and a semi-truck full of wire, copper and auto parts.

The search was the culmination of a three-month investigation in which two Las Vegas police detectives visited ABC Recycling daily to check for suspicious activity, said Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Jay Rivera.

Three people, including the recycling center’s owner, were questioned and detained but not arrested Wednesday after officers executed a search warrant. Authorities also questioned whether the individuals had a legitimate license and permits to keep and dismantle auto parts.

Officers spent most of Wednesday checking the identification numbers on vehicles on the secluded lot. Ten cars confirmed as stolen were towed away. Las Vegas police detective Lt. Robert Duvall was unsure when the cars were stolen.

“We are trying to curtail the profit of stolen copper,” he said. “We aren’t out to interrupt legitimate businesses.”

The load of wire, copper and auto parts on the semi-truck were retrieved from a nearby second site owned by ABC Recycling.

The cooperating agencies included Las Vegas police, the FBI, North Las Vegas police, Henderson police, Las Vegas city marshals and local businesses.

The value of the retrieved parts was not released Wednesday. Police said the parts will be weighed and priced in the coming days.

Contact reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@ or 702-383-0279.

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