Each of these defendants was sentenced today by Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim in Union County:
Deputy Attorneys General Anthony Torntore and Debra Conrad prosecuted the defendants for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Torntore handled the sentencings. The three men were charged in Operation Jacked,” an investigation led by the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police, assisted by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police, ICE Homeland Security Investigations and 12 other law enforcement agencies. Investigators recovered 160 stolen cars worth more than $8 million, primarily at ports in New Jersey and New York. The Division of Criminal Justice indicted 26 defendants on Dec. 18, 2014, on charges including first-degree racketeering. They included three alleged ringleaders, two alleged shippers for the ring, and 21 associates who fenced, carjacked and stole vehicles, or acted as wheel men who moved and hid the luxury vehicles. Four other defendants pleaded guilty before the indictment.
The ring targeted high-end vehicles, particularly luxury SUVs made by Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Honda, Porsche, Jaguar and Aston Martin. Twenty-seven of the recovered vehicles had been taken in carjackings, a majority of which involved a gun or other weapon, while the others were stolen from various locations where the thieves were able to steal them with one or more of their electronic keys or key fobs, which are critical to the resale value of the cars. In West Africa, the luxury vehicles trafficked by the ring commanded prices in excess of new market value in the U.S.
“Over the past three years, we’ve joined forces with our law enforcement partners – including the New Jersey State Police, HSI, the Port Authority and the Essex County Carjacking Task Force – to crack down on violent carjackers and thieves who have terrorized victims in Newark and throughout the region,” said Acting Attorney General Lougy. “Through proactive operations to lock up carjackers like Bossie and Bryant, as well as fences like Hunt, we’ve cut carjackings by more than half.”
“By putting carjackers like Bossie and Bryant behind bars for lengthy prison terms, we’re making the streets of our communities safer,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Moreover, by dismantling major overseas fencing syndicates through Operation Jacked and a similar takedown in October in Operation 17 Corridor, we took away much of the profit motive that drives violent criminals like these men to steal cars.”
“These defendants will have many years in prison to think about how their actions have hurt and traumatized victims,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We look forward to the prosecution of the many additional defendants charged in Operation Jacked.”
Individuals filled various roles in the ring, including carjacker, car thief, wheel man, fence, shipper and buyer. Carjackers and thieves, who worked in “theft crews,” would typically be 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 would load the cars into shipping containers, which were taken to ports for transport by ship to West Africa. Of the roughly 160 vehicles recovered, 140 were recovered at ports, including Port Newark, Port Elizabeth and Howland Hook Seaport in Staten Island, N.Y. The ring operated in multiple counties in New Jersey, including Essex, Union, Morris, Monmouth, Middlesex, Bergen and Somerset Counties.
Theft crews used various methods to steal cars, including carjackings. They always had a goal of obtaining keys or key fobs. Carjackers would often target victims by bumping their vehicles from behind on the highway. When victims stopped to address the situation, the carjackers would take their key by force or threat, or simply jump into the vehicle and drive off if the key was left inside. Guns or other weapons were used in a number of carjackings. Thefts also occurred at carwashes and at airports, where drivers would leave cars running at terminals to unload luggage. In other cases, members of the ring would obtain cars through fraud, using bad checks to buy cars from new and used car dealerships.
Seven other defendants have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 12 years as a result of guilty pleas secured in Operation Jacked.
The lead prosecutors for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau are Deputy Attorney General Anthony Torntore and Deputy Attorney General Debra Conrad, Senior Counsel in the Specialized Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jill Mayer, Deputy Division Director Christopher Romanyshyn and Division Director Elie Honig. Deputy Attorney General Susan Wolansky is handling the forfeiture action in this case. The investigation was conducted for the New Jersey State Police by members of the Auto Unit and other members of the Special Investigations Section, including Detective Sgt. Aaron Auclair, Detective Sgt. Jeovanny Rodriguez, Detective Sgt. 1st Class Enrique Bryan, Lt. Ron Micucci, Detective Cory Rodriguez and Trooper Nicholas Rubino.
The following agencies assisted the State Police and Division of Criminal Justice in Operation Jacked:
Valuable assistance also was provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.