Dozens of people were arrested today for operating an international crime ring that stole luxury SUVs in New York and New Jersey, many in carjackings, then resold them in West Africa.
Of the 160 cars recovered during the 10-month "Operation Jacked" investigation, at least 27 were forcibly stolen during carjackings.
The operation allegedly trafficked mainly in luxury SUVs - particularly those made by Land Rover, BMW and Mercedes Benz - that were stolen and then taken to underground garages or other locations to "cool off" so members of the ring could determine whether they contained tracking devices. "Wheel men" would then move the vehicles to different locations while deals were made with people acting as fences who would pay $4,000 to $8,000 apiece.
Other members of the group would then arrange for the cars to be shipped out of New York and New Jersey ports to African countries where the cars were outfitted with fake documents and resold for as much as $100,000 per vehicle.
Carjackers and thieves, who worked in "theft crews," were typically paid $4,000 to $8,000 for a stolen car by street-level fences, who sold cars up the chain to higher-level fences. Shippers loaded the cars into shipping containers, which were taken to ports for transport by ship to West Africa, according to Hoffman.
Earlier today, 29 people were charged for their various roles in the ring. They're facing various charges ranging from first-degree racketeering to first-degree carjacking.
New Jersey has been having a problem with high-profile carjackings this year — a man was fatally shot in a Short Hills mall parking garage during a struggle for his Range Rover in December, and thieves nearly made off with a 15-year-old girl when her mom briefly left her in a running car in Newark.
[image via ABC 7]