Section 2321 of Title 18 is a trafficking offense. The previous discussion relating to proving violations of 18 U.S.C. § 511 should be consulted. See this Manual at 1375. In the indictment for 18 U.S.C. § 2321 you may wish to use the false or altered VIN actually on the motor vehicle in order to help specify the motor vehicle which is the subject matter of the charge.
To establish a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2321 the government must establish that: (1) the defendant acquired or possessed a road motor vehicle or component on which the vehicle identification number (VIN) or component identification number (after the component standard becomes effective) had been removed, obliterated, tampered with, or altered; (2) the identification number was one required by the United States Department of Transportation; (3) such removal, obliteration, tampering with, or alteration was done unlawfully; (4) the defendant was aware of the unlawful removal, obliteration, tampering with, or alteration; and (5) defendant had an intent to sell or otherwise dispose of the motor vehicle (or component part).
In most cases proof of the defendant's awareness of the stolen nature of the motor vehicle (or component) will satisfy the knowledge requirements. Also, the presence on the defendant's premises of several vehicles or numerous components lacking the proper numbers should help satisfy the knowledge and intent requirements.
[updated May 1999] [cited in Criminal Resource Manual 1364; Criminal Resource Manual 1366; Criminal Resource Manual 1377; JM 9-61.700]