Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct that Martinez-Gomez did not work with Natural Ventures Recycling. We regret the error.

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC4) – A Taylorsville man has been arrested facing felony charges after allegedly purchasing 3,556 stolen catalytic converters, valued at $915,230, and laundering them through a recycling company.

In July 2021, officers with the Taylorsville Police Department arrested a man in possession of a stolen vehicle and two stolen catalytic converters.

Police say the man admitted to stealing both the vehicle and the converters, stating that he sells the converters to Omar Ernesto Martinez-Gomez, 47.

Police obtained a search warrant for the man’s phone, where they found “numerous text messages regarding the sale of catalytic converters,” according to a probable cause statement.

In February 2022, South Salt Lake Police officers arrested a man at the Hawthorne Townhomes apartment complex, where Martinez-Gomez also lives, for the theft of two catalytic converters.

During an encounter with Martinez-Gomez, police say he denied any involvement with the man who had stolen the converters.

However, upon further investigation, the man disclosed to police that he had sold stolen catalytic converters to Martinez-Gomez for $200 each.

The Crimes Against Statewide Economy Unit (CASE) then conducted controlled sales of catalytic converters to Martinez-Gomez using converters purchased from a local metal recycling company.

The sales were reportedly made to Martinez-Gomez in cash transactions.

Agents with the Utah Attorney General’s Office contacted the owner of Natural Ventures Recycling and requested records of catalytic converter purchases from Del Sol Auto Recycling, where Martinez-Gomez was allegedly purchasing stolen converters and converting them into a legitimate source.

According to a probable cause affidavit, from August 2021 to August 2022, Del Sol sold 3,556 catalytic converters to Natural Ventures for a total of $915,230 in 423 transactions.

Martinez-Gomez has been booked into the Salt Lake County Jail facing the following charges:

  • Theft by Receiving Stolen Property (Second Degree Felony)
  • Money Laundering (Second Degree Felony)
  • Pattern of Unlawful Activity (Second Degree Felony)