Two loosely affiliated gangs which stole and resold dozens of high-end vehicles in an elaborate crime scheme in the tri-state area have been busted, officials announced Wednesday.
After an 18-month joint investigation, group members are accused of the stealing the pricey rides, changing vehicle identification numbers, washing titles and using brokers to sell the vehicles, nearly all priced at more than $50,000. Orders were taken taking for certain makes and models to be stolen, according to police.
Authorities say, 18 people have been charged and 16 arrested on charges including enterprise corruption, grand larceny, forgery, and drug crimes.
According to the Queens District Attorney's office, 48 high-end vehicles worth $2.4 million were lifted in Long Island, New York City and New Jersey. Many of the vehicles were allegedly stolen directly from car dealerships in Queens, Manhattan, Westchester, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Some cars were taken from locations in Locust Valley and Sands Point, according to Newsday.
“The ring of thieves arrested in this case treated driveways, dealerships, parking lots and other locations like their personal showrooms, used GPS to track luxury vehicles and then burglarized businesses and unlocked vehicles for keys to drive their selections away," said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelley Wednesday.
Also busted was a narcotics trafficking ring from which more than 20 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of approximately $1 million was recovered.
Those arrested include: Emmanuel Mateo of Bronx; Henry Pena of Bronx; Franklin Bruce of Cambria Heights and Frank Fratello Jr. of Bronx; Shlomo Koun of Brooklyn; Michael Casado of Bronx; Carlos Rodriguez (address unknown); Eladio Otero of Manhattan; Raphael Chuan of Queens; Kelvin Morel of Edgewater, N.J.; Ricardo Cuevas of Manhattan; Victor Pacheco of Bronx; Albert Natanov of Flushing; Ronald Dalonzo of Astoria; Raymond O’Connell (address unknown); and Anthony Carrington (address unknown).
Eytan Koun of Flushing and Alexander Santiago of Bronx are considered fugitives, according to authorities.
Authorities say, Mateo and Santiago supplied black market brokers with new, late model high-end vehicles, the majority of which were valued in excess of $50,000.
High-ticket items on the steal list included a Bentley Continental GTC Convertible valued at $196,000 and a Mercedes Benz s550 4matic valued at $105,000. Other stolen cars included Audis, BMWs Range Rovers, Jeep Grand Cherokees and a Porsche Panamera from Queens County and elsewhere in the tri-state area.
The defendants were arraigned earlier this week in Queens Supreme Court in Kew Gardens and ordered to return to court on Jan. 15. Those charged face between seven and 25 years in prison if convicted.