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CBP cracks down on exports of stolen vehicles

Written by Marine Log Staff
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CBP officers discovered vehicles, like this stolen 2020 Wrangler, in outbound shipping containers. [Image: CBP]

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is putting a crimp in a growing export market involving transnational criminal organizations: stealing vehicles and shipping them to overseas markets.

In response, CBP officers are conducting diligent outbound cargo examinations at America’s seaports.

CBP says that few do that better than officers from its Baltimore Field Office, whose coverage spans from Central New Jersey to Northern Virginia and west to Pittsburgh. The Ports of Baltimore, Philadelphia and Wilmington are its three primary vehicle import/export pots.

CBP’s Baltimore Field Office officers intercepted 157 stolen vehicles that were being shipped overseas during fiscal year 2020 (Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020). The total value of the stolen vehicles was nearly $5 million.

The Baltimore Field Office ranked second nationally behind only the New York Field Office, which recovered 310 stolen vehicles during 2020. Nationally, CBP’s Office of Field Operations recovered 832 stolen vehicles during import and export examinations.

During fiscal year 2019, the Baltimore Field Office trailed the New York Field Office by 11 (257-246 stolen vehicle recoveries). Nationally, CBP Office of Field Operations recovered 1,082 stolen vehicles, of which 833 were destined overseas.

“Transnational criminal organizations use stolen vehicles as a form of currency to fund their illicit enterprise and it is incumbent upon us to disrupt their trade in stolen vehicles through rigorous outbound cargo examinations,” said Casey Durst, Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “Import and export examinations remain a critical component to Customs and Border Protection’s border security and trade facilitation missions.”

Within CBP’s Baltimore Field Office, the Area Port of Baltimore seized 152 stolen vehicles valued at about $4,774,000, and the Port of Wilmington seized five stolen vehicles valued at about $102,000. CBP officers turned all stolen vehicles over to local police for investigation.

During the last three years, CBP officers have observed a significant rise in the number of recovered stolen vehicles. From 2015 through 2017, Baltimore Field Office officers recovered 41, 14, and 43 vehicles, respectively. However, officers recovered 109 stolen vehicles during 2018, a record 246 during 2019, and 157 this year.

The following are additional details on recovered outbound stolen vehicles during 2020.

  • The Baltimore Field Office ranked #2 nationally with 157 recovered stolen vehicles (NY Field Office: 310). The value of those vehicles was about $4,876,000.
  • The Area Port of Baltimore ranked #2 nationally with 152 recovered stolen vehicles (Port of NY/NJ: 310). CBP’s Port of Wilmington recovered five outbound stolen vehicles.
  • 89 percent (140 vehicles) were destined to West African nations, including Benin, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  • The top-three destination countries were Togo (36 vehicles), Ghana (28) and Nigeria (26). These countries represent 57 percent of recovered stolen vehicles.
  • 55% (87 recovered stolen vehicles) were reported stolen from the Mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey (19), Pennsylvania (9), Delaware (2), Maryland (37), and Virginia (16), plus Washington D.C. (4).
  • The top-five states were Maryland (37), New Jersey (19), Virginia (16), New York (14), and Pennsylvania (9). These states represent about 61% of recovered stolen vehicles.
  • 62 percent (97 vehicles) were from model years 2019 and 2020.
  • Sport utility vehicles comprised 66 percent (104 vehicles) of recovered stolen vehicles; sedans equaled 24 percent (37 vehicles).
  • The top-five recovered stolen vehicles were the Land Rover Range Rover (13), Toyota Camry (10), Toyota Highlander (10), Infinity QX80 (8), and a three-way tie of Jeep Wrangler (5), Lexus RX350 (5) and Toyota Corolla (5).
  • The most expensive recovered stolen vehicle was a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover, valued at $114,175; it was destined to Guinea.
  • The newest vehicle was a 2020 Maserati Ghibli, valued at $78,485 and destined to Jordan.
  • The oldest vehicles were a 1999 Nissan Frontier destined to Guatemala, and a 1999 Lexis RX300 destined for Nigeria.
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