PASSAIC — A recovered stolen tractor trailer led police to arrest 11 men charged with a trafficking ring involving more than $1 million worth of stolen merchandise.

The investigation, dubbed "Operation Botany Strike," started last October when police started investigating a trailer stolen from South Amboy that had more than $100,000 worth of stolen meat, according to the State Police. The trailer was found later that day abandoned at the Vince Lombardi Service Area.

Police eventually found a facility in Passaic, which they say served as "the predominant location" where the people involved would load and unload stolen merchandise, and also keep the stolen tractor trailers. Similar facilities were also found in Little Ferry and Secaucus, according to police.

"The suspects operating within this theft ring stole anything they could get their hands on, driving stolen tractor trailers filled with everything from clothing, granite and food products to predestined facilities where they would store and offload the stolen cargo, eventually selling it both domestically and overseas," said Col. Patrick Callahan, acting superintendent of the State Police.

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal congratulated the State Police for "dismantling this criminal ring, which alleged was systematic and prolific in its theft and fencing of valuable cargo." The Attorney General said the state will "continue to target this traditional form of organized crime, which disrupts commerce, inflicts big losses, and often finances other crimes."

In addition to the state police several local departments were involved in the investigation, including the South Amboy, Lakewood, South Brunswick, Newark, Carlstadt, Kearny, Edison and Woodbridge police departments.

The people charged were:

Ambiorix Canela-Rodriguez, 26, of Paterson
• Receiving stolen property
• Fencing
• Conspiracy

Adiel Acevedo-Ortiz, 26, of Paterson
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Carlos Alcantara, 60, of Passaic
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Bassim Fardos, 38, North Bergen
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Elvis Valerio, 34, of Passaic
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Wilfredo Valle, 38, of Passaic
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Milton Vargas, 48, of Paterson
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Nelson Pena-Restituyo, 51, of Union City
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Luis Lourido, 50, of Union City
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Eduardo Ramos, 32, of Union
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

Angel DeLeon, 35, of Hawthorne
• Receiving stolen property
• Conspiracy

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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