TOTOWA, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Nearly three dozen people have been arrested or charged in what authorities said was a significant and violent international car theft ring in which committed carjackings in New York and New Jersey.
Acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman said more than 160 vehicles with a value of more than $8 million were recovered in the 10-month investigation dubbed “Operation Jacked.”
“We recovered 140 of those vehicles at ports in New York and New Jersey, where members of the ring had taken them for shipment,” Hoffman said.
Thirty-two people have been arrested, and six more are being sought.
Many of the cars were stolen in northern New Jersey and were luxury SUVs made by makers such as Land Rover, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Most of the cars were headed to West Africa, where they’d fetch a price above their market value there, police said.
Twenty-seven of the recovered vehicles had been taken in carjackings, while the others were stolen from various locations, including car washes and airports, where they could make off with the electronic keys as well, Hoffman said.
In one incident, a carjacker pulled a gun on a woman at a stoplight, dragged her out of the vehicle and pistol whipped her six months ago in Newark, Hoffman said.
In December, Hoboken attorney Dustin Friedland was killed when he and his wife were carjacked at The Mall at Short Hills the for their Land Rover.
“The murder several months ago of Mr. Friedland in Short Hills mall shows how far carjackers will go,” Hoffman said.
Those arrested range from people who committed carjackings to others who paid them $4,000 to $8,000 each for the cars to those who oversaw the operation, Hoffman said.
“They were carjackers, car thieves, wheel men, fences, and shippers,” Hoffman said.
They’re charged with crimes including carjacking, racketeering and money laundering.
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