Police bust 17 auto theft suspects in Southeast Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Police say this theft ring was made up of hard core gang members with violent criminal pasts, who stole the cars to feed their drug addictions.

Police spotted a stolen 1995 Accura that was taken sometime after midnight. The suspected thief was identified as Ruben Milano. A chase ensued, police then followed the suspect into an alley.

Tim Tietjen with the Fresno Police Department said, "As he went down this alley he stops the patrol car comes to a stop, he puts the car into reverse and rams the vehicle. After ramming the vehicle all parties take off running."

Milano and two other men ran from the scene but were caught by officers. A total of 17 auto theft suspects have been arrested in this crackdown. Including the alleged ringleader.

Tietjen said, "Gustavo Sanchez a high risk parolee, he's on GPS monitoring he cut his monitor off and we've been trying to catch him now for the last three days."

This car, along with seven others have been returned to their owners. Tu Her was happy to get his car back.

Tu her said, "A little lucky because everything seems to be running fine."

Police say cars stolen by this crew could be sold to chop shops for cash or drugs, or taken to be used in drive by shootings.

Tietjen added, "They are not just auto thieves they are violent criminals."

Police say this is gang related, and methamphetamine seems to be the driving factor to feed that need. Police say all of them arrested were under the influence.

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