Alleged crime ring uncovered at Cash for Gold stores; 7 people arrested

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Seven people from five Cash for Gold stores were arrested for trafficking stolen goods following a four-month-long investigation involving the pawning of stolen jewelry. By Jennifer Thomas Seven people from five Cash for Gold stores were arrested for trafficking stolen goods following a four-month-long investigation involving the pawning of stolen jewelry. By Jennifer Thomas
Seven people from five Cash for Gold stores were arrested for trafficking stolen goods following a four-month-long investigation involving the pawning of stolen jewelry. By Jennifer Thomas Seven people from five Cash for Gold stores were arrested for trafficking stolen goods following a four-month-long investigation involving the pawning of stolen jewelry. By Jennifer Thomas
Mutaz Fakhouri By Jennifer Thomas Mutaz Fakhouri By Jennifer Thomas
Leonard Salem By Jennifer Thomas Leonard Salem By Jennifer Thomas
Gary Kazanjian By Jennifer Thomas Gary Kazanjian By Jennifer Thomas

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- An alleged crime ring involving Valley gold-buying stores was busted this week.

Seven people from five Cash for Gold stores were arrested for trafficking stolen goods following a four-month-long investigation involving the pawning of stolen jewelry, according to Chandler police.

In May, a civilian employee for the Chandler Police Department noticed a discrepancy in a pawn slip from a local Cash for Gold store, according to police spokesman Detective Seth Tyler.

"When our detectives went out to investigate it, they soon uncovered a conspiracy that was occurring, not just here in Chandler but in Phoenix and Mesa as well, amongst seven individuals," Tyler said.

According to police, thieves were using the stores to sell their stolen goods then the gold shop would melt the items down and never issue a pawn slip.

Six of the suspects are related and the seventh is a family friend. Between the seven of them, they own five Cash for Gold stores and they were all conducting the same type of scheme, according to police.

The store locations are 777 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler; 1940 W. Baseline Road, Mesa; 2110 W. Southern Ave., Mesa; 8357 N. Seventh St., Phoenix; and 2340 W. Bell Road, Phoenix.

The suspects have been identified as Mutaz Fakhouri, 31; Leonard Salem, 38; Gary Kazanjian, 33; Sammer Hweimel, 40; Rami Salem, 31; Murad Salem, 34; and Joseph Salem, 31.

Investigators said the suspects were allowing individuals to sell their gold without producing any ID and they were not holding the product for a minimum of 10 days, as required.

"They were letting it be known to all the criminals locally here in Chandler and then in Phoenix and Mesa as well that when you commit your burglaries, this is the place to go to get your product turned into cash," Tyler said.

The suspects are facing multiple counts of attempted trafficking in stolen property, criminal syndicate, illegal control of an enterprise, and conspiracy.