By: Jeff Sommes:
Officials at the New Jersey State Police reported that Troopers have charged six suspects and dismantled an auto theft ring in New Jersey and New York linked to the theft of more than 30 high-end vehicles worth more than $3 million during a seven-month investigation.
According to a statement released by NJ State Police, in May, detectives with the Troop "C" Criminal Investigation Office began investigating multiple high-end motor vehicle thefts in Millstone Township and Upper Freehold Township.
NJ State Police said, as a result, detectives identified Geovanni Hernandez, 24, of Newark, as a suspect and linked him to the theft of a BMW M8 and three Land Rover Range Rovers in Upper Freehold Township and Millstone Township. On July 22, detectives located Hernandez and arrested him.
According to NJ State Police, during the investigation, detectives identified Carlos Sanchez, 23, of Newark as the leader of an auto- theft ring targeting high-end vehicles in Monmouth County, Mercer County, Ocean County, Union County, Essex County, Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Burlington County, Bergen County, Middlesex County and New York State Detectives also identified James Lanier, 24, Solomon Mickens, 23, and Sadiq Griggs, 23, all of Newark, N.J. as associates.
Officials said through various investigative means, detectives determined that the suspects were also targeting residences while victims were home and committed burglaries in an attempt to steal the vehicles.
After stealing the vehicles, the suspects would transport them to other locations where they were given fraudulent vehicle identification numbers to be retitled and sold through an online marketplace.
On November 17, officials said Troop "C" Criminal Investigation Office members, State Police Auto Theft Task Force, T.E.A.M.S. Unit, K-9 Unit, and Strategic Investigations Unit Central, with assistance from members of the United States Marshals NY/NJ Fugitive Task Force and Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office executed search warrants at the residences of Mickens and Sanchez and a motel in Avenel, where Sanchez was staying.
After the searches, State Police said detectives arrested Sanchez and Mickens and seized a 9mm handgun, a high-capacity magazine, key fobs, and electronic devices linked to the operation.
Detectives later arrested Griggs at a residence in Newark and Lanier in a vehicle in Newark.
Officials said Destiny Montalvo, 21, of Newark, was located at her residence and was arrested for conspiring to dispose of evidence.
The suspects were charged with the following:
Carlos Sanchez: Leader of an auto theft trafficking network, Conspiracy to commit theft, Theft by unlawful taking
James Lanier: Conspiracy to commit theft, Theft by unlawful taking, Burglary
Geovanni Hernandez: Conspiracy to commit theft, Burglary, Theft, Receiving stolen property
Solomon Mickens: Conspiracy to commit theft, Theft by unlawful taking
Sadig Griggs: Conspiracy to commit theft
Destiny Montalvo: Tampering with physical evidence