Skip to main content
CRM 1000-1499

1366. Trafficking In Certain Motor Vehicles Or Motor Vehicle Parts

Section 2321 of Title 18 makes it an offense to deal in motor vehicles or motor vehicle components knowing that the identification numbers have been falsified or removed. The term "identification number" is identical to the definition in 18 U.S.C. § 511.

There is no need to prove that such vehicles or parts have been transported in interstate or foreign commerce. Neither 18 U.S.C. § 2321 nor § 511 cover the simple possession of a vehicle or component with a falsified or removed identification number. Section 511 is limited to the person who removes or falsifies the identification number or who aids or abets such conduct. Section 2321 covers the trafficker in such vehicles or components, not a mere possessor. The component parts covered by 18 U.S.C. § 2321 are identical to those covered by 18 U.S.C. § 511. See this Manual at 1375

Section 2321 of Title 18 should be of assistance in dealing with the various salvage switch schemes (sometimes referred to as "VIN switching," "retagging" or "replating") where the VIN of a salvage motor vehicle and its "papers" (i.e., title) are transferred to a stolen motor vehicle of the same make and model. In executing this motor vehicle theft scheme, the defendant purchases or acquires a salvage vehicle at an insurance auction. He then steals or has stolen a vehicle of similar make and model year and then transfers the VIN of the salvage vehicle to the stolen vehicle. He then disposes of the stolen vehicle under its new identity. Because passenger cars from model year 1970 to date have been required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to have VIN plates, 18 U.S.C. § 2321 would apply to any passenger car VIN switch occurring after the date of enactment (October 25, 1984). However, since the DOT component parts marking program began with model year 1987, violations of 18 U.S.C. §  2321, based on altered, removed, or obliterated parts identification numbers, could not occur until after introduction of the 1987 model year limits. The VINs of most other road vehicles are covered from model years 1981 to date. See this Manual at 1374 (Effective Date).

For a discussion of proving violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2321, see this Manual at 1376.

[cited in JM 9-61.700]