By John Burton
Twenty-nine men, allegedly operating a carjacking and stolen car trafficking ring in New York and in New Jersey – including in Monmouth County – were charged today, according to Acting state Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
Authorities from a number of law enforcement agencies took 23 into custody on Thursday, charging them with a list of offenses ranging from first-degree racketeering and carjacking to money laundering. Authorities are continuing to search for six others, according to the attorney general’s office.
A total of 14 agencies conducted what was dubbed “Operation Jacked” and recovered approximately 160 stolen vehicles, worth more than $8 million, during the 10-month investigation.
Authorities said the group targeted high-end vehicles in New York and New Jersey, especially luxury sport utility vehicles, from manufacturers such as Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Porsche and BMW. In many cases the vehicles were loaded into shipping containers and sent to West Africa for resale. About 140 vehicles were recovered at New York and New Jersey ports.
In the case of 27 of the 160 recovered vehicles, the defendants threatened owners with weapons and carjacked the vehicles after bumping them on roadways.
In other cases the thieves would obtain electronic keys, or fobs, to gain access to the vehicles.
Authorities believe the gang was responsible for auto thefts in Monmouth, Middlesex, Bergen, Essex, Morris and Union counties, as well as in New York.
Among the agencies participating in Operation Jacked were the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Manalapan Police, along with other county prosecutor’s offices and local police; Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police; U.S. Homeland Security Police; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and state police for New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts and Connecticut; and the U.S. Marshals Service.