PHOENIX— The final defendant in “Operation Tin Man,” the largest auto theft crime syndicate investigation MCAO has ever prosecuted, has been sentenced. Charles Flowers (D.O.B. 1/20/1962) was sentenced to four years in the Department of Corrections, followed by two years of supervised probation for two counts of attempted trafficking in stolen property, one count of theft of a means of transportation and one count of conducting a chop shop.
“I would like to commend our prosecutors and law enforcement partners who participated in this major investigation and brought the defendants to justice,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Through a longterm, coordinated effort we were able to eliminate a criminal enterprise that stretched throughout the state and victimized hundreds of people.”
“Operation Tin Man” consisted of a joint investigation conducted by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Pinal County Attorney’s Office lasting 15 months from June 1, 2012 to October 16, 2013. The investigation found criminal activity at Hendrix Recycling and Hendrix LLC. A separate company, Hendrix Salvage Company, Inc., was a part of the initial RICO investigation in “Operation Tin Man” but none of its officers or employees acting on behalf of HSC, Inc. were criminally charged from that investigation.
The investigation resulted in the arrest and conviction of 19 individuals. A total of 24 defendants were ultimately charged.
The joint task force investigation observed numerous unidentified vehicles being driven into the recycle yards, crushed and transported within only a couple of hours. During the investigation, undercover officers brought in cars, trailers, tires and mine grade copper to the recycle yards. Some of the cars were intentionally made to resemble stolen vehicles with broken steering columns and broken ignitions. In all but two transactions, undercover officers told Hendrix Recycling LLC employees that the vehicles or other property they were bringing in were stolen. However, each time, Hendrix Recycling LLC employees took the property without question, and did not follow regulations requiring they take the license of the seller, a fingerprint, and provide a receipt.
On three occasions, undercover officers sold mine grade copper to one of the Phoenix yards and the Tucson yard. This copper was 99% pure and only two recycle yards in Arizona are permitted to have this copper. At the conclusion of this investigation, one of the Hendrix Recycling LLC employees—who had processed 200 lbs. of mine-grade copper just a couple weeks prior—was interviewed by a uniformed officer and identified the copper as having come from a mine and acknowledged that they would not have been allowed to have it. Several Hendrix Recycling LLC employees were also involved in the sale of illegal drugs.