Chandler police arrested seven men, including six from one family, on suspicion of trafficking in stolen goods at five "cash for gold" stores in Chandler, Mesa and Phoenix.
Detective Seth Tyler of the Chandler Police Department said the arrests Tuesday were the culmination of a four-month investigation started after a civilian technician with Chandler police was checking sales slips and noticed they weren't filled out properly at one shop.
The technician passed along her findings and property crimes investigators took over. Investigators from Phoenix and Mesa aided in the investigation.
Tyler said the slips are similar to what have to be maintained at pawn shops and are turned over to police daily for review. The store employees have to fill out the slips, ask for identification and ask a series of required questions.
He said store employees in this investigation weren't asking the questions and that criminals with stolen gold were turning it into cash.
Arrested and booked into the Mesa County Jail on multiple counts of attempted trafficking in stolen property and operation of an illegal enterprise were Mutaz Fakhouri, 32; Rami Salem, 32; Leonard Salem, 38; Gary Kazanjian, 33; Murad Salem, 34; Sammer Hweimel, 40; and Joseph Salem, 31.
Tyler said six of the seven suspects are "related by blood" and that all the stores are tied to the suspects.
The stores are located at:
777 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler
8357 N. 7th St., Phoenix
2340 W. Bell Rd., Phoenix
1940 W. Baseline Rd., Mesa
2110 W. Southern Ave., Mesa
"We took down seven individuals and five stores. That's a big dent," Tyler said.
It was also a big dent in a market that now alerts criminals that they can't turn stolen gold into cash at these stores.
Tyler praised the civilian employee. "That was a big catch," he said.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5(Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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