International auto theft ring busted in Istanbul
Çetin Aydın – ISTANBUL
Five members of an organized crime ring, including its Iraqi leader, were detained in an operation conducted by Istanbul police on May 9. Three of them were arrested by court later on.
Police officers, acting on a tip-off about cars stolen in Europe being sold in Iraq, detained three members of the ring, including a Greek national, at the customs office in Istanbul’s Yeşilköy district after they cleared a luxury Jaguar automobile through customs.
Police later raided a villa in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece district and detained a Turkish national and the Iraqi leader of the group.
A Mercedes SUV and $55,000 in cash were confiscated in the raid.
After the legal procedures the two cars will be sent to their owners in Germany, police have said.
The investigation will be extended in order to discover other international links, they added.
The leader of the group, not identified by the police, is a prominent figure in Iraq’s automobile market as the owner of many auto galleries in the country. Another member of the group is suspected of organizing the car thefts in Europe, especially in Germany. One of the Turkish members of the ring was responsible for transporting the vehicles to Iraq through Turkey with forged documents, according to the initial findings of the investigation.
The other two Turkish suspects were released by court.