A Chehalis man was arrested Thursday on a $500,000 warrant out of Oregon for his alleged involvement in an organized catalytic converter trafficking ring.
Cole C. Miller, 24, was one of 14 individuals indicted in Washington County, Oregon, last month as part of the Beaverton Police Department’s investigation into the trafficking of stolen catalytic converters, a spokesperson for the police department confirmed to The Chronicle Monday.
Miller faces three counts of first-degree aggravated theft and one count of racketeering.
Police say the crime ring was centered in the Portland metropolitan area, spanned over six Oregon counties and reached into the states of Washington, Nevada, California, Texas and New York, according to a news release from the Beaverton Police Department.
The investigation, which began in late 2021, culminated last week with the search of eight locations and the seizure of over 3,000 catalytic converters, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, a high-end vehicle and jewelry, according to a news release from the police department.
The Chehalis Police Department arrested Miller on the Oregon warrant on Aug. 12 and he was booked into the Lewis County Jail, where he was still being held as a fugitive from justice from another state as of Monday afternoon.
Agents from the state of Oregon will retrieve Miller from Lewis County and transport him to Oregon so his case can proceed.
Among those arrested for alleged involvement in the trafficking ring was Brennan Patrick Doyle, 32, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, who is accused of being the leader of the criminal organization. Doyle is believed to have trafficked over 44 thousand stolen catalytic converters since January 2021 with an estimated street value of over $22 million dollars, according to a news release.
Also arrested was Tanner Lee Hellbusch, 32, of Beaverton, who is accused of running an illegal stolen catalytic converter fencing operation. Police stopped Hellbusch on March 1 while he was in a vehicle transporting over 100 stolen catalytic converters with an approximate value of $80,000. During the next five months, Beaverton detectives determined Hellbusch, Doyle and over 12 other associates — including Miller — participated in an organized effort to steal catalytic converters from vehicles up and down the West Coast.
Beaverton detectives say Doyle’s organization capitalized on the increased prices of rhodium, platinum and palladium, which are the valuable metals found in catalytic converters. As of last week, rhodium was valued at over $14,000 an ounce, up from approximately $2,500 an ounce in 2019, according to a news release.
“This makes the few grams found in each catalytic converter a profitable haul,” according to the department.