14 charged in international car-theft ring
DETROIT - Nine suspects were arrested in metro Detroit and four in the San Diego area over the last two days for their alleged role in a large-scale car-theft scheme that transshipped stolen luxury sedans, SUVs and other vehicles to Iraq, announced United States Attorney Barbara McQuade.
U.S. Attorney McQuade was joined in the announcement by Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The arrests capped a nearly two-year investigation, dubbed "Operation Hot Wheels," by HSI.
In July 2009, agents developed information which identified an organized scheme to steal vehicles and transship them through Canada to Iraq.
Unsealed today, the indictment alleges that certain members of the criminal organization, led by Adnan Hana, 57, of Sterling Heights, Mich., rented vehicles from national rental car chains in Michigan and Ohio, drove them into Canada, and once the vehicles were in Canada, filed police reports claiming the vehicles were carjacked or stolen in Detroit.
The indictment further alleges that five of the vehicles were intercepted on shipping containers at the Port of Montreal by the Canada Border Services Agency. The vehicles were being shipped to Iraq. According to the indictment, export documents accompanying these vehicles indicate the export agent is Discount Auto Sales, a company owned by Adnan Hana at the time of the alleged scheme.
"Criminal groups often believe they are employing ingenious techniques to further their illicit activity," said Moskowitz. "In a global law enforcement environment, however, HSI has the sophisticated tools and resources it needs to follow a lengthy paper trail to expose schemes such as this and bring those involved to justice."
United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said, "When people steal from American companies, we all suffer in the form of higher rates that get passed on to the consumer."
The following have all been indicted on charges of transportation of stolen property in interstate and international commerce and related conspiracy charges:
Adnan Hana, 57, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody,
Jason Hana, 27, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody,
Heather Hana, 29, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody,
Nazar Quiryaqous, 46, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody
Sabah Hermiz, 57, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody.
These individuals were charged in criminal complaints with transportation of stolen property in interstate and international commerce:
Wasem Aziz, 26, of Warren, Mich., in custody,
Peter Barno, 28, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody,
Joey Youkhanna, 24, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody,
Nilton Asmar, 30, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody,
Ghanim Hanna, 59, of Sterling Heights, Mich., in custody,
Sala Hanna, 57, of El Cajon, Calif., in custody,
Samir Daly 48, of El Cajon, Calif., in custody,
Also charged in the Indictment was Danieal Korkis, 46, of Sterling Heights, Michigan. Korkis has not yet been arrested.
Another individual Ramzi Yousef, 58, of El Cajon, Calif. was charged in a criminal complaint with mail fraud for his role in the scheme. He was arrested today. Indictments and criminal complaints are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged by indictments and criminal complaints are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All defendants are entitled to a fair trial at which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The case was investigated by agents from Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Hurford.