A 26-year-old Davenport man was arrested after selling several stolen vehicles in Ocala.
On Wednesday, November 17, a Marion County Sheriff’s Office detective responded to Hogsten Auto Sales located at 5092 SE Maricamp Road in Ocala in reference to a stolen vehicle.
A male victim who worked at the business told the deputy that he had recently purchased a 2021 Jeep Wrangler. He bought the vehicle from a man who had used an alias and was later identified as Juan Batista Contreras.
According to the victim, he had no suspicions at the time of the purchase. The VIN stickers attached to the driver’s side door and the windshield both matched the VIN that was provided by Contreras on the vehicle’s title.
When the victim prepared to have the vehicle ready for sale at the business, his assistant found the VIN that was stamped into the undercarriage of the vehicle, and it did not match the VIN that was on the driver’s side door and windshield.
The VIN from the undercarriage was listed as stolen out of Miami.
The detective was shown a digital copy of Contreras’ driver’s license from the sale. The driver’s license was from New Jersey, and the vehicle’s insurance and temporary registration were also out of New Jersey.
The MCSO report indicated that the detective learned through an investigation that Contreras had a New York driver’s license, and the photo on his actual driver’s license was identical to the photo used on the New Jersey license. The New Jersey driver’s license number was found to be invalid.
On Friday, December 24, MCSO learned that Contreras was transporting another vehicle to Ocala with the intentions of selling it, and an undercover operation was conducted.
Contreras was detained and stated during an interview that he was in Florida illegally. He stated he was born in Santo Domingo and had been living in Florida for a few months.
He claimed to have a friend in Orlando that he referred to as “Aseres,” and this friend would give him vehicles to sell. “Aseres” would provide the vehicle’s title to Contreras along with a fake driver’s license that matched the name on the title, and the license would have Contreras’ picture on it.
In exchange for selling the vehicles, Contreras stated that he would receive between $1,000 and $1,500. He admitted to having sold two vehicles while working with “Aseres.”
According to Contreras, he had questions regarding why “Aseres” conducted business like this, but he was more focused on the money he would receive from each sale. He stated he did not have any information on “Aseres,” such as a real name or known address.
Contreras was arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and later released on $18,000 bond. He is facing numerous felony charges including grand theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a forged driver’s license, and dealing in stolen property.
A court date has been scheduled on Tuesday, January 25 at 9 a.m., according to jail records.