Mission police arrest alleged 'mastermind' in auto theft ring

By: Lily Celeste

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A 33-year-old man linked to multiple car thefts in Mission and McAllen was arraigned Wednesday.

Police are searching for two other suspects in connection with the auto theft ring, according to Mission police spokesman Art Flores.

Michael Anthony Salazar was arraigned on auto theft charges and received a bond of $100,000. Jail records show he remains booked in the Hidalgo County jail. 

“He's the mastermind of this criminal organization where they steal vehicles and they take them to Mexico,” Flores said, adding that the auto theft ring is targeting newer model GMC trucks.

“Our goal is to dismantle these organizations that they create,” Flores said.

Records show this is the third round of auto theft charges Salazar faces.

According to Flores, Salazar is linked to four separate car thefts in the cities of Mission and McAllen.

Flores said technology helped police find Salazar.

“Luckily with the LPRS — the license plate readers that we have throughout the Valley, all agencies are getting them now — assisted us in obtaining the license plates of this suspect vehicle,” Flores said.

Police are also tracking down people they say were involved with Salazar. 

One of the suspects is Leona Marie Walker — who Flores said would drive the stolen vehicles to Mexico. Police are seeking help in identifying a third individual who is believed to have crossed into Mexico with a stolen vehicle.

Those with any information on the location of the suspects are urged to call the Mission Police Department at 956-584-5000.

Watch the video above for the full story. 


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