🚗 More than a dozen arrests in major chop shop bust
🚗 Mechanics by day, chop-shoppers by night
🚗 Guns, drugs and cash also seized

New Jersey law enforcement officials have announced the arrests of more than a dozen people in the takedown of alleged Paterson chop shop operations linked to the theft of more than 35 vehicles throughout the Garden State.

A total of 14 individuals are now facing criminal charges in connection with four chop shops that functioned as towing and mechanic businesses during the day but at night were used to alter stolen cars and trucks for resale or parts.

The charges are the result of a five-month investigation by the State Police,  Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, the Paterson Police Department and other federal and state agencies.

Making communities safer

“Auto theft is known to go hand-in-hand with other more serious crimes, which is why dismantling these criminal networks and prosecuting participants is essential to our goal of reducing theft and violent crime in New Jersey,” Attorney General Matt Platkin said Friday. “By taking down chop shops that facilitate the sale of stolen vehicles, we’re interrupting the larger auto theft network and making our communities safer.”

vladans GettyImages
vladans GettyImages

The defendants were rounded up last week in Paterson, Elmwood Park and Passaic.

Six stolen motor vehicles recovered along with numerous components from stolen vehicles, key fobs, stolen license plates, and electronic devices.

Guns, drugs and cash also seized

Also recovered in the searches were an assault rifle, heroin, marijuana, a kilo press used to process drugs, and cash believed to be proceeds from criminal activity.

The alleged boss of the chop shop operations, Carlos Torres, 41, of Paterson, was charged with conspiracy to operate chop shops, conspiracy to receive stolen property, receiving stolen property, and possessing a vehicle with an altered vehicle identification number.

Thirteen others were charged with receiving stolen property and various other offenses related to the alleged vehicle theft operation. Some defendants were also charged in connection with other alleged criminal activities, including drug distribution.

Emergency vehicle lighting
Getty Images/iStockphoto

A small step


The investigation began in January when detectives began looking into statewide thefts of Hondas believed to be destined for chop shops in Paterson.

Investigators said the stolen vehicle were given fake VINs to be re-titled and later sold or disassembled for parts.

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