Federal agents captured an ex-con who they said participated in a ring that stole BMWs, Mercedes and other luxury cars from towns in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Bilal Cureton, 30, of Newark and his cronies often used stolen vehicles to steal more cars, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.
In one instance, she said, the Essex County crew members stole a Maserati GranTurisimo in the Jersey Shore town of Manalapan and drove it nearly 85 miles to New City in Rockland, where they took a Range Rover and a Porsche.
A predawn police pursuit followed before the Maserati driver hit the gas and slammed it head-on into a police vehicle, Honig said.
The thieves fled in another vehicle, he said.
Authorities later recovered one of the stolen cars in a shipping container bound for Ghana at Port Newark, the U.S. attorney said.
Among other vehicles that Honig said the crew took:
- 2019 BMW X4 M40i stolen from Greenwich, CT;
- 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 stolen from Clifton, NJ;
- 2017 Mercedes S550 and 2019 Rolls Royce, stolen from Hewlett Bay Park, NY;
- 2019 Land Rover stolen from Kensington, NY;
- 2019 Mercede-Maybach stolen from Quogue, NY;
- 2014 Lexus GS stolen from West Long Branch, NJ;
- 2017 BMW M4 stolen from Marlton, NJ;
- 2017 Mercedes AMG S63 stolen from Orangeburg, NY.
The thieves hid the vehicles – worth more than $1.5 million -- in Irvington while selling them, Honig said.
Charged with conspiring to transport stolen vehicles in interstate commerce are Malik “Smack” Baker, of Vauxhall, and Hakeem “B.A.” Smith and Nafique Goodwyn, both of Newark.
Cureton faces similar charges.
Baker and Smith were also charged with conspiring to receive stolen vehicles and receiving a stolen vehicle that had crossed state lines. Smith also was charged with one count of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines.
The case against all of them is pending, Honig said.
Honig credited special agents of the FBI and Newark police with the investigation while thanking several law enforcement agencies, including:
- New Jersey State Police;
- the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office;
- police from Irvington, Clarkstown, Wall Township, Marlboro and Tewskbury;
- Port Authority police;
- officers and agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection;
- the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations New Jersey Division;
- the U.S. Department of Commerce-Office of Export Enforcement.
Handling the case for the government are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Amore and Olajide Araromi of Carpenito’s Criminal Division in Newark.
The investigation is part of the Newark Violent Crime Initiative (VCI), which Honig said was created in August 2017 as a "community-wide cooperative effort aimed at combatting violent crime in and around Newark," with a host of federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborating, sharing intelligence and pooling resources.
Participants include her office, the FBI, the ATF, the DEA New Jersey Division, U.S. Marshals, the Newark Department of Public Safety, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the N.J. State Board of Parole, the Union County Jail, the N.J. State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, the state Department of Corrections and the East Orange and Irvington departments.
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