AZ DPS
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PRESS RELEASES

Key Arrests Made in Connection with the Organized Theft of More Than 50 vehicles

Monday, January 13, 2014 -


In December 2013 detectives with the AATA Task Force and DPS identified Benjamin Jaco Appell, 38, as a key player during the investigation of a significant number of Honda and Nissan vehicle thefts in the area of the Mesa / Tempe border.

DPS later learned that Mesa detectives were engaged in an investigation of Benjamin Appell for organized vehicle theft activity. The discovery led the two law enforcement agencies, along with the AATA Task Force, to quickly team up along with Tempe detectives.

Mesa executed a search warrant for Benjamin Appell on Jan. 3, 2014. Appell was arrested and booked into the Maricopa County 4th Avenue Jail for several counts of theft of a means of transportation, conspiracy, trafficking in stolen property and drug sales.

Detectives had linked 28-year-old Mario Esteban Jimenez to Benjamin Appell during the investigation and began surveillance operations on him. Jimenez was observed driving a stolen vehicle through the parking lot of an apartment complex near Dobson Road and Isabella Ave. in Mesa. When detectives moved in to arrest Jimenez, he attempted to flee the area while smashing into a light post and then ramming a detectives’ vehicle. The driver abandoned the stolen vehicle and fled on foot, but was quickly taken into custody.

Mario Jimenez was booked into the Maricopa County 4th Avenue Jail for several counts of theft of a means of transportation, conspiracy, trafficking in stolen property and drug charges.

The Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force (AVTTF) is comprised of city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies participating in a concerted effort to identify, apprehend, and prosecute individuals and criminal organizations that profit from the theft of motor vehicles and related crimes. The AVTTF provides a vital mission on behalf of the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority (AATA) to reduce vehicle theft in Arizona by deterring criminal activity through aggressive, proactive enforcement and by creating a public awareness through community education. Through continued grant funding from AATA, the AVTTF will continue to provide exemplary services to the citizens of Arizona. East Valley - The Arizona Auto Theft Authority Task Force (AATA) along with DPS and the Mesa Police Department made arrests in the past week relating to a vehicle theft operation out of Tempe and Mesa that orchestrated the theft of more than 50 import vehicles in just two months.