Four arrested in alleged scheme to smuggle stolen cars to Iraq
Four men from El Cajon have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a Detroit-based criminal operation to smuggle stolen rental cars from the U.S. to Iraq, authorities said.
Arrested in El Cajon were Sala Hanna, 57; Sami Daly, 48; Ramzai Yousef, 58; and a fourth man whose name was not released.
Nine others were arrested in Detroit after a two-year undercover investigation that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents called Operation Hot Wheels.
Authorities said the conspiracy involved stealing luxury sedans, sport utility and other vehicles in the U.S., driving them to Canada and then shipping them to Turkey en route to Iraq.
The leader of the alleged conspiracy was identified in federal indictments as Adnan Hana, 67, of Sterling Heights, Mich., whose company allegedly was attempting to ship cars from the Port of Montreal.
The arrests mark the second time in recent weeks that authorities have announced a criminal conspiracy tying El Cajon and Detroit with Iraqi overtones.
Two weeks ago, San Diego authorities announced the arrest of 60 people allegedly involved in a drug- and gun-smuggling operation centered at a social club in El Cajon for Chaldeans -- Iraqi Christians -- who have emigrated to eastern San Diego County.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego