13 Arrested in International Car Theft Ring

September 6, 2011

Nine suspects in Detroit and four suspects in San Diego have been arrested for their alleged role in a large scale car theft scheme – a scheme that transshipped stolen luxury sedans, SUVs and other vehicles to Iraq.

The arrests were the result of an extensive two-year investigation, known as “Operation Hot Wheels,” conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The indictment alleges that certain members of the criminal organization, led by a Michigan man, rented vehicles from national rental car chains in Michigan and Ohio. They then drove the vehicles into Canada, where police reports were filed claiming that the vehicles had been either carjacked or stolen in the Detroit-area.

The indictment further alleges that five of the vehicles were intercepted on shipping containers at the Port of Montreal by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). According to the indictment, export documents accompanying these vehicles stated that their export agent was Discount Auto Sales, a company owned by the Michigan suspect.

Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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