TRENTON, N.J. --A total of 21 people were indicted on racketeering charges after an investigation into a car theft ring in New Jersey that, investigators say, partly relied on carjackings.
Another person has been charged in connection with the case. Four people also charged have pleaded guilty.
The ring targeted vehicle makes such as BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Maserati, Porsche, Jaguar and Bentley, according to an indictment released within the past week.
Acting New Jersey Attorney General Robert Lougy said that within the ring, suspects filled various roles including carjacker, car thief, wheel man, fence, shipper and buyer.
The cars would be loaded into shipping containers, Lougy said, and then shipped to west Africa, where they would command premium prices, investigators say.
Some cars would be stolen from locations where the thieves could also get a hold of the electronic keys, which Lougy said were critical to the resale value of the cars. Some of those cars were stolen while the owners left them running, while others were stolen while unlocked - with keys still inside the car.
Other cars were stolen from dealerships and, in other cases, the suspects would simply rent the desired car from a car rental agency and never return.
The most worrisome cases, however, were thefts involving violent carjackings, targeting some drivers in their own community.
"In their quest for luxury vehicles, members of this ring ambushed people in suburban driveways and outside malls and restaurants, at times brandishing handguns," Lougy said.
The 21 suspects were identified by the attorney general's office by their alleged role in the ring. They are:
1. Tyja Evans, 39, of Watchung, N.J.;and
2. Ibn Jones, 37, of Newark, N.J.
Alleged Shippers and High-Level Fences
3. Peter Cleland, 33, of East Orange, N.J.;
4. Sowah Anan, 31, of Elizabeth, N.J.;
5. Adama Fofana, 53, of the Bronx, N.Y.; and
6. Alpha Jalloh, 27, of New York, N.Y.
Rental Car Thefts
7. Julian Atta-Poku, 34, of Queens Village, N.Y. (allegedly coordinated sales of stolen rental cars); and
8. Andrea Brown, 25, of Jamaica, N.Y. (allegedly used fraudulent credit cards and driver's licenses to rent cars which she stole).
Alleged Street-Level Fences
9. Eric Aikens, 40, of Newark, N.J.;
10. Levell Burnett, 39, of Newark, N.J.; and
11. Damion Mikell, 33, of Newark, N.J.
Alleged Carjackers, Car Thieves and/or Wheel Men
12. Derrick Moore, 36, of Keansburg, N.J.;
13. Rashawn Gartrell, 37, of Irvington, N.J.,
14. Kenneth Daniels, 30, of Newark, N.J.;
15. Tyree Johnson, 23, of Newark, N.J.;
16. Donnel Carroll, 28, of Newark, N.J.;
17. Khalil Culbreath, 38, of Newark, N.J.;
18. Terrence Wilson, 39, of Newark, N.J.;
19. Marquis Price, 32, of Newark, N.J.;
20. Frazier Gibson, 29, of Montclair, N.J., and
21. Alterique Jones, 41, of Maplewood, N.J.
The 22nd defendant is accused of helping one of the suspects. He is charged with third-degree attempted theft.
The four who have previously pleaded guilty are:
Eddie Craig, 36, of Beverly, N.J., pleaded guilty on Feb. 11 to first-degree racketeering and faces a recommended sentence of nine years in prison, including nearly eight years of parole ineligibility.
Nasir Tuner, 36, of Newark, N.J., pleaded guilty on March 1 to first-degree racketeering and faces a recommended sentence of 11 years in prison, including more than nine years of parole ineligibility.
Manuel Olivares pleaded guilty on Jan. 13 to second-degree racketeering and faces a recommended sentence of seven years in prison.
Panel Dalce, 43, of South Orange, N.J., pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2015 to second-degree racketeering and faces a recommended sentence of six years in prison.