Police have smashed a massive fraud ring in Malta targeting Canadian cars worth more than GBP 6 millions in the last two years.
As part of Project Majestic, the York Regional Police Auto Cargo Theft Unit seized 64 automobiles worth USD 3.5 million (GBP 2.9 million) in the Republic of Malta in southern Europe and returned them to Canada.
Investigators determined the whereabouts of the stolen automobiles, which were inside shipping containers, ready to be sold illegally, in collaboration with the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA), the Malta Port Authority, and the Customs and Equite Association.
Members of the Auto Cargo Theft Unit began working on Project Majestic in early 2021, in partnership with the Toronto Police Auto Theft Suppression Project, the Peel Regional Police Commercial Auto Crime Unit, and the Peel Regional Police Criminal Investigations Bureaus.
Investigators have discovered a criminal ring responsible for stealing high-end automobiles from home driveways around the Greater Toronto Area, including Lexus, Toyota, and Honda sport utility vehicles.
The suspects got into the cars and reprogrammed the ignition systems, allowing them to drive away with a new key.
The automobiles were either driven directly to the Port of Montreal or placed into shipping containers in Toronto and sent by rail to Montreal.
The containers were then loaded onto ships and sent to customers in Africa and the UAE.
More than 70 stolen automobiles were taken between March 2021 and December 2022, with a total value of more than USD 4.5 million (GBP 3.7 million), in addition to the recently recovered vehicles in Malta, bringing the total number of recovered vehicles to more than 130, with a total value of USD 8 million (GBP 6.6 million).
Eighteen persons have been charged with over 170 crimes, including conspiracy, trafficking in stolen property, and theft of a motor vehicle.