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07/01/2013

Woman convicted of shipping stolen luxury vehicles to Africa

CAMDEN, N.J. – A Brooklyn, N.Y., woman was convicted Friday for her role as the leader of a ring responsible for shipping dozens of stolen and carjacked vehicles worth more than $1 million from New Jersey to Africa. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) and the New Jersey State Police investigated this case.

Hope K. Kantete, 43, was convicted of 10 counts of transportation of stolen vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce and a single count of conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce.

According to court documents, Kantete employed other individuals who were responsible for purchasing stolen and carjacked vehicles from thieves operating in Northern New Jersey and New York. Kantete then had individuals re-tag or place new vehicle identification numbers on the stolen cars and create fraudulent title documents so the cars could be shipped out of the country. After the documents were created, Kantete arranged to have the cars loaded onto shipping containers in Port Newark and sent to ports in West Africa. The cars could be re-sold in West Africa for at least twice their retail value in the United States.

Kantete is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 3. She faces up to 15 years in prison.

The BEST program identifies, disrupts and dismantles organizations that seek to exploit vulnerabilities at the U.S. border through increased information sharing and collaboration among partner agencies. The Newark BEST incorporates personnel from HSI Newark, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Port Authority Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Newark Field Division, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the Water Front Commission of New York/New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service.