A “sophisticated” car-stealing network broken up by the RCMP has so far yielded the recovery of 29 cars and a boat from the Port of Montreal.
Four arrests were made, and the suspects face charges of conspiracy, trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime, theft of identity, theft of motor vehicles, possession of break-in instruments, as well as forgery and uttering forged documents.
The RCMP rolled out a few of the cars seized in the sting on Thursday, showing how the cars had been stuffed in large shipping containers padded with discarded mattresses.
The cars — mostly Toyotas, Lexuses and Acuras — were originally destined for Africa, particularly Angola, Guinea and Burundi. The investigation alleges that the network stole vehicles from individuals in Quebec City, Lévis and Montreal, as well as Ontario.
The RCMP said the VIN numbers had been tampered with to avoid detection by authorities.
“It is also alleged that the members of the network used forged documents and stole the identity of existing import/export companies to register fraudulently the luxury vehicles and export them to Africa,” the RCMP said in a news release.
A total of 44 cars have been identified as stolen, although only 29 have been found. The estimated value of the theft is $1 million.
The seizure and arrests are the result of a year-long investigation by the RCMP after receiving information from Canadian customs officers who identified stolen cars in several shipping containers.