2 Suspected Fresno Chop Shops Busted

October 16, 2009 6:44:27 PM PDT
29-year-old Jorge Lujano got a surprise visit from probation officers Friday morning. Inside his Central Fresno home CHP investigators assigned to an auto theft task force stumbled upon dozens of random motorcycle parts. They call it "A motorcycle chop shop." Investigators also found an assault rifle and two motorcycles, still intact. Sgt. Leonard Sherman calls the bust a major breakthrough. "It's significant to us because its our first break in the sports bike theft in Fresno because we've been getting hammered with sport bikes and we have three of them connected to this person right here. In last few months we've had over 40 stolen and none recovered here locally until today."A few days ago, Sgt. Sherman's team raided an auto shop on North Maple near Olive. Johnny Moua, a customer says he was terrified, "They came armed like a SWAT team, they just pointed guns at everybody told them to freeze and get on the ground."

Sgt. Sherman said, "The vehicles that had stolen engines in them were equipped for street racing and many of those there that night were involved in street racing clubs."

Investigators call the auto shop a chop shop too and impounded six cars and 17 Honda and Acura engines and transmissions they say are stolen. Moua said, "This shop is nowhere close to being a chop shop." Investigators arrested the owner, San Saelee who didn't want to talk on camera. He denied doing anything illegal, including racing on the street. Moua said, "They build cars but how can they automatically assume we race them on the streets. They have no evidence. When there's time they take them to legal race tracks."

The CHP arrested three people so far, and said more may follow. The auto shop owner is out on bail but his employee is still in jail. Both plan to fight the charges. Lujano was booked Friday afternoon and along with the two others, faces a series of charges including running a chop shop and possession of stolen property.

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