'Operation Wrecking Crew' leads to multiple arrests in illegal towing scheme


by Andrew Michalscheck

Video report by Mike Watkiss

Posted on December 13, 2012 at 6:40 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 17 at 10:59 PM

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MESA, Ariz. -- A two-year investigation led by the Mesa Police Department has resulted in the arrest of several people involved in an allegedly crooked towing company.

“Operation Wrecking Crew” began in September 2010 when authorities started receiving numerous complaints about SWAT Towing/Auto Citi Towing, which was located near Alma School Road and Broadway in Mesa.

During the course of their investigation, police said they learned that the company had illegally towed vehicles that were properly parked, damaged vehicles while towing them, and refused to release vehicles without a cash only payment.

SWAT Towing/Auto Citi Towing is also accused of fraudulently obtaining vehicles by applying for abandoned titles, and then selling them at a used car lot in Chandler called M&P Auto Sales.

“Operation Wrecking Crew” has resulted in the arrest of Richard Gonzales, 29; Orlando Padilla, 35; Ashley Zepeda, 24; Troy Myers, 32; and Thomas Obrien, 38.

Charges filed in the case include illegal control of an enterprise, auto theft, forgery, and fraudulent schemes.

Anyone who believes they may have been victimized by SWAT Towing/Auto Citi Towing is asked to contact the Mesa Police Department at 480-644-2324.