NORTH BERGEN AND BEYOND – After North Bergen Police first reported seven luxury cars stolen almost two years ago, law enforcement authorities arrested 11 people in conjunction with a major criminal network that allegedly was responsible for stealing high-end vehicles.
According to Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow, 11 people, many of them alleged to be gang members, were arrested on Oct. 19, following a 15-month investigation which spanned three counties.
In addition to the arrests, police recovered three high-end luxury vehicles worth more than $330,000, several guns, and $71,000 in cash.
In July 2009, the North Bergen Police Department entered into a cooperative investigation with the New Jersey State Police Auto Unit and the F.B.I. Newark Field Office after seven Mercedes Benz vehicles were stolen from a storage facility in town at a value of $775,000. Five of the vehicles were later recovered.
In May 2010 authorities investigated additional automobile thefts, including a Mercedes Benz stolen from a Hudson County dealership and six Cadillac Escalades, worth $310,500, from a storage facility.
The investigation led to three men allegedly running the ring. Maurice Loyal, an alleged member of the Bloods Street Gang, Maurice Murray, and Rahjan Simmons. While authorities were looking into the thefts, Simmons was shot and killed on July 14, 2010 in front of one of these shops.
In addition to Loyal and Murray, nine others were arrested.
They were charged with 2nd degree racketeering, 2nd degree receiving stolen property, 2nd degree fencing-dealing in stolen property, 3rd degree forgery, and 2nd degree conspiracy.
Police are still seeking the arrest of Eliot Martinez, 39, of Union City. There is still an active investigation underway.
For more information, read this week’s North Bergen Reporter. – Tricia Tirella