Car Theft Ring Members Arrested in El Cajon

A total of 14 were charged in an ICE probe targeting international car-theft ring

By Sarah Grieco
|  Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011  |  Updated 10:56 AM PDT
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Car Theft Ring Members Arrested in El Cajon

Four men were arrested in El Cajon for their alleged participation in an international drug ring.

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Four suspects were arrested in San Diego over the last two days for their alleged role in a large-scale car-theft scheme.

Three of suspects are from El Cajon. Sala Hanna, 57, and Samir Daly, 48, are charged in criminal complaints with transportation of stolen property in interstate and international commerce. Ramzi Yousef, 58, was arrested Wednesday and is charged in a criminal complaint with mail fraud for his role in the scheme.

A Michigan man was also arrested in San Diego. Sabah Hermiz, 67, was involved in the scheme and has been indicted for transporting stolen property and conspiracy.

A total of 14 people were arrested as the two-year investigation “Operation Hot Wheels” completed its mission. One defendant remains at large.

The investigation was led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. In July 2009, HSI agents developed information which identified an organized scheme to steal vehicles and transship them through Canada to Iraq.

Certain members of the criminal organization allegedly rented vehicles from national rental car chains. The men then drove the cars into Canada, and once there, filed police reports claiming the vehicles were carjacked or stolen in Detroit. The vehicles were then being shipped to Iraq.

“When people steal from American companies, we all suffer in the form of higher rates that get passed on to the consumer,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

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