Possible international car theft ring uncovered in Opa-locka

Police investigating whether vehicles, parts were being shipped out of country

By Roy Ramos - Reporter, Michelle F. Solomon - Podcast Producer/Reporter

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. - An anonymous tip led police to a strip of warehouses in Opa-locka, where they discovered nearly a dozen high-end vehicles parked outside. Police believe cars were being shipped and sold out of the country either in their entirety or stripped down and their parts sold.

Chief James Dobson, of the Opa-locka Police Department, said his office received a tip two weeks ago and began a joint investigation with Miami-Dade police.

Investigators are calling the business a chop shop operation that was running out of three vacant units. Five cars and an SUV, including an Audi, two Mercedes-Benzes, two BMWs and a Cadillac Escalade, were discovered at the business. Two of the automobiles were rental cars and the others were registered as stolen out of Florida.

Dobson told Local 10's Roy Ramos that the tipster gave police the address and said that there were stolen vehicles being shipped out of the country.

The business, operating under the name Caribbean Shipping and Transport, was either stripping down cars and selling parts or shipping the vehicles in their entirety out of the country, according to police.

"There are some vehicles chopped in parts, so there may be more vehicles here," said Dobson.

Police said they discovered rent was not being paid on the warehouse space. The property manager who was talking to detectives spoke to Local 10 and said she didn't know that anyone was operating out of the units because the doors were always closed.

Police arrested two men on Thursday. Dobson said they were possibly employees and that he expects more arrests will follow. "The investigation is going to continue moving forward," he said.

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