Six Hudson County residents were arrested yesterday in a statewide sweep by federal, state and local officials who broke up an international car theft ring that exported vehicles to various African nations, officials said.
The arrests disrupted a smuggling operation at New Jersey’s ports and recovered more than 200 vehicles valued at more than $6 million. Eleven of 19 people charged were arrested by yesterday.
“This alleged organized criminal activity contributes to the number of carjackings committed in northern New Jersey,” said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, whose office helped in the probe. “These were high-end cars that were being shipped overseas.”
The Jersey City residents arrested were Manuel De Jesus Olivares, 41; Mark Anthony Spivey, 46; Kevin Miles, 28; John Turner, 53, and Eromosele Okoeguale, 40, said Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, who took part in the 6 a.m. sweep in Hudson County with federal, state and local law enforcement.
Also arrested was Carlos L. Arnau, 32, of North Bergen, Schillari said. Hudson County residents still being sought are Christopher Barrens, 36, of Jersey City, and Roman Vladimir Dilone, Schillari said.
Prosecutors said the stolen and carjacked vehicles were exported through seaports in Newark and Elizabeth and shipped to African countries including Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Officials said the defendants were part of a complex criminal organization that stole, sold, and exported the vehicles that were “retagged” by altering their identification numbers and obtaining counterfeit titles.
One person charged was already in custody on unrelated charges and the eight other suspects remained at large yesterday afternoon.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.