3 people arrested in car theft ring that operated out of North Side shop, BCSO says

Suspects charged with engaging in organized crime; two suspects remain at large

SAN ANTONIO – Three men were recently arrested after Bexar County deputies said they conspired with three other suspects in a car theft ring that operated out of a North Side shop.

The operation, which Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar called “Operation: Hellcat Mike,” was named for the accused ringleader in this case: 37-year-old Michael Wilson.

George Santibanez, 33, Miguel Santibanez, 19, and Ethan Soto, 23, are each charged with engaging in organized crime, records with the Bexar County Jail show.

Wilson was also charged with engaging in organized crime, Salazar said during a Friday afternoon news conference.

Wilson is currently in custody at the Brazoria County Jail. He is facing a $750,000 bond, Salazar said.

Salazar also said deputies are searching for two 18-year-old suspects whom he identified as Augustin Gallegos and Jodacey Santibanez.

Miguel Santibanez is also charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, and Soto is also charged with theft of a vehicle ranging from $30,000-$150,000.

Gallegos has been charged with engaging in organized crime. Jodeacey Santibanez is facing three charges: engaging in organized crime, unauthorized use of a vehicle and theft of a vehicle.

George Santibanez is the uncle of Miguel and Jodacey, who are brothers, the sheriff said.

Arrest warrant affidavits state that BCSO began investigating the suspects because they were allegedly stealing vehicles, removing their engines and installing them in other cars, which were later sold on social media.

The investigation led deputies to a property in the 1000 block of Basse Road, near San Pedro Avenue, on Feb. 27.

Deputies said they found seven stolen vehicles on the property that Miguel Santibanez claimed to be an owner of.

Several car parts were also identified as being stolen, deputies said. One vehicle, a gray Dodge Charger, was in the process of being put together, and that car’s engine was stolen, according to investigators.

The affidavit states George Santibanez and Ethan Soto had been linked to the property, and George Santibanez posted videos and images from inside the shop on social media. Phone records revealed that George Santibanez stated he worked at the shop in an Instagram message, the affidavit states.

Some vehicles were sold with a cat-shaped logo on them, which Salazar said is connected to Wilson.

On Feb. 26, authorities pulled over Soto because he was driving a vehicle with a tampered VIN, deputies said. That VIN belonged to a Dodge Charger that had been burglarized, and the PCM — one of the vehicle’s main computer systems — had been stolen.

Deputies later discovered that Soto had been shot while stealing a vehicle in 2023.

Authorities said Wilson posted several “swapped” Chrysler and Dodge vehicles for sale on Instagram at half the amount they were worth.

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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