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California investigators bust $150 million cargo theft ring

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, May 11, 2023:

The California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF), along with CHP investigators assigned to the Cargo Theft Interdiction Program, recently conducted a statewide enforcement operation targeting a criminal organization believed to be responsible for more $150 million in stolen merchandise.

CHP’s operation led to the arrest of 40 suspects, the recovery of more than $50 million in stolen merchandise, the recovery of 20 stolen trailers, and the seizure of several vehicles, multiple firearms (including ghost guns), more than $550,000, and 13 gold bars.

“This team has worked tirelessly to unravel this complex case,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “I continue to be impressed by the dedication and commitment put forth daily by our officers and investigators. Their efforts help make California a safer place to live and work.”

cargo theft stolen cargo in trailerAmong the merchandise CHP recovered -- to the tune of a total $50 million worth -- was this load.Office of California Gov. Gavin NewsomThe case originated in March 2022 and resulted in CHP conducting more than 50 targeted operations involving multiple surveillance teams, undercover officers, arrests, and the authoring and serving of several search warrants.

The suspects are believed to be responsible for the theft of more than 200 cargo loads valued at over $150 million. Major retailers are among the victims of the thefts investigated. The suspects involved are facing several felony charges involving conspiracy to commit grand theft, grand theft of cargo, vehicle theft and identity theft.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to prioritize combating organized retail theft, CHP said. The state's invested more than $241.4 million in the last year to bolster law enforcement efforts to address organized retail theft and other crimes, and support affected businesses.

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