DMV Investigators Bust Unlicensed Auto Dealers in San Jose

California Department of Motor Vehicles
Media Relations Office
2415 First Avenue, MS F-122, Sacramento, CA 95818
Contact: DMV Media Relations

May 28, 2009

San Jose —In a continued effort to crack down on unlicensed car dealers, investigators from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) arrested 5 individuals and handed out 13 misdemeanor citations on May 23, halting the sale of vehicles without proper occupational licensing.

Arrested were Jesus Solorio Penalza, 25, Raul Munoz, 38, Francisco Gutierrez, 33, Romulo Villa Salinas, 35 (all of San Jose) and Juan Sergio Cortes, 31, of Sunnyvale. They were charged with  selling vehicles without a license, among other various misdemeanor charges. Salinas had outstanding arrest warrants.  A total of 21 vehicles were immediately towed and impounded under a new law which took effect this year which gives law enforcement the authority to immediately seize any vehicle sold illegally.  

“Unlicensed dealers victimize customers by selling potentially unsafe vehicles and skirt the system by not paying sales taxes, which makes it tough on legitimate, licensed dealers,” said DMV Director George Valverde.

Acting on a tip from the Used Car Dealers Association, DMV investigators were able to break up two illegal car dealer operations in San Jose--both near major “flea” markets, where unlicensed dealers often display vehicles near areas where the public frequents such as public roads and lots. The DMV has seen an increase in unlicensed car dealers springing up throughout the state in recent months.

Anyone possessing information related to unlicensed dealer activity is encouraged to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations Division.  A list of Investigations offices can be found at

Editor’s Note: Gerardo Zuniga, Supervising Investigator at DMV’s Campbell Investigations Office and Patrick Lee, Supervising Investigator at the Santa Teresa Investigations office is available for interviews. He can be contacted at (408) 341-1150.

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DMV’s Investigations Division enhances consumer protection through active fraud/counterfeit detection, investigation, and enforcement services. The DMV is a department under the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which is under the direction of Secretary Dale E. Bonner. The DMV licenses drivers; maintains driving records; registers and tracks official ownership of vehicles and vessels; investigates auto and identity-related fraud; and licenses car dealers, driving schools, and traffic violator schools.


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