Leader of NJ Car Smuggling Ring Sentenced to 22 Years in Federal Prison
A Brooklyn, NY woman known as “the Lady” was sentenced to nearly 22 years in federal prison for leading a car smuggling operation.
44-year-old Hope Kantete led a sophisticated smuggling ring that shipped dozens of luxury automobiles from New Jersey to Africa. According to authorities, the vehicles were stolen and carjacked. Police believe that approximately 10 percent of the cars were obtained through carjackings.
A multi-agency task force led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security conducted the investigation. When the smuggling ring was shut down by police in June 2012, authorities recovered more than 200 vehicles. 19 people were eventually charged in the scheme. The defendants hailed from New Jersey, New York, and Kansas.
Kantete was convicted in June 2013 on 10 counts of transporting stolen vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce. In addition to sentencing Kantete to prison time, the judge ordered her to pay restitution of almost $350,000.
According to law enforcement officials, Kantete had members of her organization place new vehicle identification numbers on the cars and create fraudulent title documents for the cars, which were later shipped abroad to West Africa.
For more information about this case, access the NJ.com article entitled “Ringleader of International Luxury Car Theft Operation Sentenced to Nearly 22 Years.“