Four suspects were arrested Thursday morning and there are warrants for the arrests of three more, after the RCMP and Canadian Custom Officers (CBSA) busted a network exporting stolen vehicles in containers through the Port of Montreal to Africa.
The investigation started a year ago when three luxury SUVs were found hidden behind mattresses in containers.
CBSA superintendent Jean-François Rainville says 90 percent of the time that's how thieves hide the vehicles.
“As of January 1, we tracked 173 stolen vehicles and last year it was 415, so there’s a lot of stolen cars that leave the Port of Montreal,” Rainville said; adding that the vehicles are often headed to Africa and Lebanon.
“Most are SUVs and Toyota is the most common brand.”
Rainville says thieves change the vehicle's identification number or lie about the contents of their containers to try and ship the goods.
A total of 44 vehicles were stolen from Montreal, Quebec City, Lévis and Ontario, in this particular network.
29 of them were recovered. The items seized include Toyota, Lexus and Acura luxury vehicles and a boat.
The total value of the recovered goods is approximately $1 million.
The suspects face charges of conspiracy, trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime, theft of identity, theft of motor vehicles, possession of break-in instruments, as well as forgery and uttering forged documents.