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Post date: November 4 2015

A.G. Schneiderman & NYPD Commissioner Bratton Announce the Indictment of 14 Individuals in Takedown of International Luxury-Vehicle Theft Ring

In ‘Operation Cruise Control’ More Than 70 Luxury Cars And Suvs Were Stolen From Streets And Rental Car Agencies; Shipped From The Bronx To West Africa 

Schneiderman: We Will Not Tolerate The Theft And Trafficking Of Contraband Especially When It Threatens The Integrity Of Our Borders

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton today announced the indictment of 14 individuals who operated a sophisticated international stolen vehicle theft ring that drove Mercedes, BMWs, Infinitis and other luxury vehicles right off rental car lots at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, and loaded them into shipping containers in the Bronx, before sending them to buyers in West Africa.

The long-term investigation, called “Operation Cruise Control,” utilized wiretaps and other types of surveillance to gather evidence against the Bronx-based criminal ring that allegedly acquired a large volume of stolen vehicles from public streets and rental car companies.  The high end vehicles included BMW X5s, Mercedes GL450s, Porsche Cayennes, Range Rovers and Lexuses. Once in possession of the stolen vehicles, the defendants allegedly created fraudulent documentation for the vehicles, and loaded them into 17 different shipping containers at a lot at 380 Bruckner Boulevard in Bronx County. 

The containers were destined for several countries in West Africa, including Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, disguising the containers’ contents by documenting false vehicle identification numbers (VINs) on the shipping documents, often using titles from junked or salvaged cars.

“This was no fly-by-night operation. For more than a year, investigators with my office and the NYPD tracked this crew using wiretaps and surveillance video,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “As our investigation shows, we recorded the defendants as they brought in stolen cars from our airports, put them into shipping containers, and shipped them out to buyers in West Africa. This was a sophisticated network of international thieves—but as our partnership with the NYPD shows, we will never allow New York to be used as a hub for global theft.”

"Once again, the NYPD has demonstrated its enforcement powers beyond the borders of New York City, thanks to our strong law enforcement partnerships. I applaud the dedication of the investigators and prosecutors involved in this investigation which resulted in holding these individuals responsible for this international vehicle theft ring, as alleged," said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.

 “Auto crime is a problem that impacts us all either as victims or through higher insurance premiums,” said Thomas Belfiore, Chief Security Officer, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “It takes an integrated, multi-agency collaborative response from law enforcement to be effective in combating the problem. The Port Authority Police Department and its Detectives are proud partners in this team effort.”

Based on the investigation, it is alleged that Allen Robinson and Derek Edwards fraudulently rented the luxury vehicles from Avis, Hertz and National and sold them to a middle man or “broker,” who would then transport the vehicle to the Bronx to be loaded into a shipping container destined for Africa.  In this case, the American-based brokers allegedly included Dramane Doumbia, Cheik Diallo, Tyja Evans, Adama Fofana, Mohamed Samake, Alpha Jalloh, Amadou Souare, Eddie Lee and Lamine Bah.  Once these American-based brokers secured international buyers, they would then facilitate the delivery of the vehicles to 380 Bruckner Boulevard, Bronx, NY.  Once the vehicles arrived in the Bronx, they were loaded into 40-foot shipping containers bound for West Africa. 

Lead defendant, Dramane Doumbia, operated the Bronx shipping hub with his team that included Mohamed Bangoura, Gbatta Doua and Pan Bakari Coulibaly.  They allegedly loaded the containers and arranged for the vehicles to be transported to West Africa through the use of false documentation.  Specifically, Dramane Doumbia and his team allegedly provided false VINs to shipping companies – thus disguising the containers’ true contents – in order to bypass U.S. Customs and Border Protection exportation requirements.

The Attorney General's indictment, which was unsealed today in Bronx County Supreme Court, charges 14 people with Conspiracy and Criminal possession of Stolen Property as well as other crimes including, but not limited to, Grand Larceny.  The top charges carry with them a penalty of up to 5 to 15 years in prison.

Those charged are:

  • Dramane Doumbia; 57, New York, New York (arraigned today)
  • Pan Bakari Coulibaly; 36, Bronx, New  York
  • Mohamed Bangoura; 47, Brooklyn, New York (arraigned today)
  • Alpha Jalloh; 26, Brooklyn, New York
  • Alseny Sow; 21, Bronx, New York
  • Mohamed Samake a/k/a “Ken”; 42, Newark, Delaware (arraigned today)
  • Tyja Evans; 39, Union, New Jersey
  • Adama Fofana; 53, Bronx, New York
  • Gbatta Jules Doua a/k/a “Marcel”; 39, Brooklyn, New York (arraigned today)
  • Derek Edwards; 32, Bronx, New York
  • Allen Robinson; 38, Bronx, New York (arraigned today)
  • Lamine Bah; 41, Bronx, New York (arraigned today)
  • Cheik Diallo, a/k/a “Omar”; 52, Bronx, New York (arraigned today)
  • Eddie Lee; 35, East Orange, New Jersey

The charges are the result of a long-term joint investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Control Bureau Auto Crime Division, with the assistance of the Office of Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, and the Port Authority Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau.

The Attorney General thanks Hertz, Avis-Budget and Enterprise-Alamo-National for their cooperation in this matter.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The investigation was jointly conducted by OCTF Senior Investigator Jose Rojas and Deputy Chief Investigator Chris Vasta, together with Detective Christopher Connolly, Officer Olivier Pasquet, Sergeant Kevin Gildea and Lieutenant Edward Donnelly of the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Control Bureau Auto Crime Division.  The Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarella; The New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Control Bureau Auto Crime Division is led by Captain Donald Boller.  Port Authority Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Chief Matthew Wilson, Captain Hugh Johnson, and Detective Dave LeClaire assisted in this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Brandi S. Kligman and Deputy Bureau Chief Tarek Rahman. Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff runs the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and Kelly Donovan is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice.

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