The criminal world has discovered a lucrative and growing market: heavy construction equipment. This growing problem is extremely costly to owners of construction equipment, who not only lose valuable equipment, but also pay the price of business downtime. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, close to $1 billion a year is lost nationwide due to theft of construction equipment. A 2005 equipment theft survey conducted by Equipment Today magazine shows that almost 72% of respondents have experienced equipment theft.
Hammoud, a native of Lebanon who lives in Miramar, was arrested Friday July 24th 2008 at Miami International Airport by FBI agents arrest as he was attempting to fly to Beirut. Muslim used car dealer Ali Hassan Hammoud was able to steal $5.7 Million from the State of Florida and wire transferred at least $3 Million to Beirut Lebanon (can you say "Hezbollah").
In an affidavit accompanying the wire fraud charges filed against Hammoud FBI Agent Zachary Coates said the state began depositing money in Hammoud's bank account on July 21, after receiving a form asking that money due Anderson Columbia be paid to an account at Regions Bank in Miami instead of the true account at Wachovia in North Florida.NYPD AND NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL SHUT-DOWN BRONX-BASED LUXURY AND CONSTRUCTION VEHICLE THEFT AND EXPORT RING OUT OF NEW YORK AND FLORIDA SEA PORTS WITH “OPERATION TAG SAIL”.
Early Morning Raids on Feb. 11th 2009 as Part of “Operation Tag Sail” Lead to 12 Arrests for Stealing More than $2.5 Million in Vehicles for Black Market Sale Across the U.S. and in the Dominican Republic, the raids were instigated with the help and investigation of the Broward County, Florida Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit and the United States Customs and Border Protection Agencies in Florida.
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced the shutting down of a Bronx-based criminal enterprise that stole and exported millions of dollars worth of construction equipment and luxury vehicles, as well as the arrests of 12 individuals associated with the crime ring.
A series of early morning raids conducted by Attorney General Cuomo’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Control Bureau Auto Crime Division capped a year-long investigation dubbed “Operation Tag Sail.”
The investigation focused on a Bronx-based criminal ring that allegedly stole nearly 50 vehicles from construction sites, public streets, car dealerships, and parking garages. They allegedly specialized in stealing high-end luxury automobiles, including Hummers and Porsches, and heavy equipment such as Caterpillar Excavators and other makes, for sale on the black market in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and the Dominican Republic.
In total, 12 individuals – including a boss, under-boss, forgers, vehicle thieves, and other members of an alleged illicit crew – were arrested on felony charges filed in Bronx County. Of them, 10 were charged in a 100-count indictment with, among other crimes, Enterprise Corruption, Forgery, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, Forgery of Vehicle Identification Number, Grand Larceny, and Conspiracy. Enterprise Corruption alone carries a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison. The other two defendants were separately indicted for Criminal Possession of Stolen Property and Grand Larceny.
“Some people try to smuggle jewels out of the country. These individuals tried to sneak off with Caterpillars and Hummers. What they lacked in finesse they tried to compensate with audacity. But it made no difference. They met with the same end – arrest – thanks to the outstanding work of NYPD auto crime detectives and their partners in the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force,” said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.
The investigation utilized wiretaps and other surveillance to gather evidence on the Bronx-based operation. According to the charges, the ring stole nearly 50 vehicles from construction sites, public streets, car dealerships, and parking garages.
Generally, once an automobile or truck was stolen, the defendants allegedly would ‘wash’ the vehicle’s title clean by checking the vehicle identification number (VIN) of a similar make and model (or using forged documents from out of state), using this information to put a new VIN plate and new forged stickers on the stolen vehicle, creating a title made up to match the fake VIN, and then re-registering the vehicle out-of-state (FLORIDA) – in states that could not “read” the information bar code on the forged titles. (Stolen cars appeared to be shipped out of the USA via Ports under the supervision of the United States Customs and Border Protection Agencies in Florida)