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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Monday, June 9, 2014

Illegal Alien Sentenced To 21 Months In Prison In Scheme To Ship Stolen Vehicles To West Africa

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Eric Olaniyan, age 53, a Nigerian citizen residing illegally in Laurel, Maryland, today to 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit interstate transportation of stolen vehicles. Upon completion of his sentence, Olaniyan will be transferred into ICE custody pending immigration removal proceedings. Judge Motz also entered an order that Olaniyan pay $65,040.46 in restitution.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Customs and Border Protection Baltimore Port Director Andrii Melnyk; and Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department, Washington Area Vehicle Enforcement (WAVE) unit.

According to Olaniyan’s plea agreement, from 2012 through April 22, 2013, Olaniyan and others shipped stolen cars from the United States to countries in West Africa for resale. The conspirators hired others to steal the vehicles with the keys, so that the vehicles could be more easily sold. Olaniyan was paid cash to store the stolen vehicles at a parking lot or other locations, known as “cooling spots.” The stolen vehicles were subsequently loaded into containers and shipped to buyers in Africa.

In early March 2013, a Prince George’s County Police detective located three stolen vehicles parked near Olaniyan’s residence. The movements of the vehicles were tracked through April 2, 2014, and all eventually ended up at warehouses known to be used for loading shipping containers that are exported from the United States. On April 12, 2014, the CBP Baltimore Vehicle Export Team examined the contents of a container and located the three stolen vehicles in the container, as well as a fourth vehicle which had also been reported stolen.

On April 22, 2013, a search warrant was executed at Olaniyan’s apartment. Eight stolen vehicles were found parked in the area. The keys to all eight stolen vehicles were seized from Olaniyan’s apartment, along with a counterfeit vehicle title for one of the vehicles.

The loss associated with the vehicles for which Olaniyan participated in the scheme was over $200,000.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the HSI Baltimore, CBP and Prince George’s County Police Department WAVE unit for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein also praised the Howard County Police Department, Maryland State Police and the Regional Auto Theft Task Force (RATT) for their assistance in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who prosecuted the case.

Updated January 26, 2015