Denham Springs man among 7 suspects arrested in pair of bizarre, gang-related ATM thefts
LAKE CHARLES - On Monday, deputies arrested several members of a motorcycle gang responsible for stealing multiple ATMs and forklifts in a sequence of unusual heists.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office says the first theft happened July 13 along Sampson Street in Westlake. Deputies arrived at a bank to find the ATM missing and a forklift abandoned in the parking lot.
Investigators later learned that a group of thieves had stolen the forklift from a nearby business and used it to remove the ATM and load it into the back of a truck, which had also been reported stolen. The truck was later found with the ATM still loaded in the back.
A near-identical theft happened Aug. 3 in the very same area. Deputies once again arrived to find an ATM missing from the bank with a stolen forklift again abandoned in the parking lot. The forklift was found alongside a trailer, which had also been stolen along with a truck from another nearby business.
Later that same day, deputies found the stolen truck and ATM on fire near Bayou D'Inde Pass in Sulphur.
Investigators soon identified the suspects in both crimes as members and affiliates of the Brother East Outlaws motorcycle gang. The sheriff's office says the suspects stole a total of $150,000 from the ATMs.
On Sept. 23, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office along with the Houston Police Department, FBI, U.S. Marshal’s Office, ATF, FBI-Beaumont Branch, Beaumont Police Department, Port Arthur Police Department, Beaumont Fire & Medical, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Officer of Inspector General, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Prisons and Texas DPS located and arrested five of the seven suspects.
· Melvin Cupp, 46, Spring, Texas (outstanding warrant)
· Brandon Hightower, 33, Humble, Texas
· Hosea Owens IV, 28, Alvin, Texas
· Joshua Leroy Fontenot, 44, Denham Springs, LA (outstanding warrant)
· Christopher Scott, 44, Lake Jackson, Texas
· James Hicks, 33, Huffman, Texas
· Faith Breaux, 27, Beaumont, Texas
All five are charged with theft of a motor vehicle over $25,000; theft of a motor vehicle $5,000 to $25,000; 2 counts of simple criminal damage to property $1,000 to $25,000; theft less than $5,000 over $1,000; 2 counts of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle; obstruction of justice; simple arson; 3 counts of criminal trespassing; 4 counts of unauthorized entry of a place of business; 4 counts of theft over $25,000; 4 counts of simple criminal damage to property; unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure; and racketeering. Judge David Ritchie set Breaux’s bond at $263,000 and all other bonds at $600,000.
Authorities announced that Cupp turned himself. He was booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center Wednesday. Thursday morning Fontenot was arrested in Orange, Texas after a traffic stop.
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