Law & Justice

Top Member of Carjacking Ring that Trafficked Luxury Cars to West Africa Pleads Guilty and Faces Lengthy Prison Sentence

1e65ebbeb50d7bfb79aa_Kyle-Champagnie.jpg
Kyle Champagnie Credits: NJ Office of the Attorney General
1e65ebbeb50d7bfb79aa_Kyle-Champagnie.jpg

 

TRENTON, NJ –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that an Essex County man pleaded guilty today to a first-degree charge for his role as a top member of a major international carjacking and stolen car trafficking ring that stole high-end cars in New Jersey and New York and shipped them to West Africa.

Kyle Champagnie, 30, of Irvington, pleaded guilty today to a first-degree charge of financial facilitation of criminal activity before Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim in Union County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to 16 years in state prison, including eight years of parole ineligibility. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 21.

“Champagnie was a top member of this dangerous ring, which would stop at nothing to get desired makes and models of high-end cars, including committing brutal carjackings,” said Attorney General Porrino. “By putting this criminal in prison for a lengthy term, we’re making our communities safer.”

Sign Up for E-News

“We reduced carjackings in Newark and the surrounding region by more than half thanks to the concerted efforts of the Attorney General’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, HSI, the Port Authority and the Essex County Carjacking Task Force,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “With Operation Jacked in 2014 and Operation 17 Corridor in 2015, we infiltrated the black market for stolen vehicles and slammed on the brakes.”

“The overseas demand for high-end cars was being met by this dangerous criminal group, which did not hesitate to resort to violence to get their hands on these vehicles,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The cooperative effort, which led to the arrests and guilty pleas of those involved, sends a powerful message that we will be unwavering in our pursuit of those who commit these often violent and traumatic crimes.”

Deputy Attorney General Anthony Torntore took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. The defendant was charged in “Operation Jacked,” an investigation led by the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police, assisted by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police, ICE Homeland Security Investigations and 12 other law enforcement agencies. Investigators recovered 160 stolen cars worth more than $8 million, primarily at ports in New Jersey and New York. The Division of Criminal Justice indicted 26 defendants in December 2014 on charges of first-degree racketeering, including Champagnie and another alleged ringleader, two alleged shippers for the ring, and 21 associates who fenced, carjacked and stole vehicles, or acted as wheel men who moved and hid the luxury cars. More than a dozen defendants previously pleaded guilty in Operation Jacked and are facing prison terms ranging from five to 20 years.

The ring targeted high-end vehicles, particularly luxury SUVs made by Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Honda, Porsche, Jaguar and Aston Martin. Twenty-seven of the recovered vehicles had been taken in carjackings, a majority of which involved a gun or other weapon. Carjackers would often target victims by bumping their vehicles from behind on the highway. When victims stopped to address the situation, the carjackers would take their key by force or threat, or simply jump into the vehicle and drive off if the key was left inside. Other vehicles were stolen in “soft steals” from various locations where the thieves were able to steal them with one or more of their electronic keys or key fobs, which are critical to the resale value of the cars. Thefts occurred at carwashes and at airports, where drivers would leave cars running at terminals to unload luggage. In other cases, ring members obtained cars through fraud, using bad checks to buy cars from new and used car dealerships. In West Africa, the luxury vehicles trafficked by the ring commanded prices in excess of new market value in the U.S.

Shippers would load the cars into shipping containers, which were taken to ports for transport by ship to West Africa. Of the 160 vehicles recovered, 140 were recovered at ports, including Port Newark, Port Elizabeth and Howland Hook Seaport in Staten Island, N.Y. The ring operated in multiple counties in New Jersey, including Essex, Union, Morris, Monmouth, Middlesex, Bergen and Somerset Counties.

The lead prosecutors for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau are Deputy Attorney General Anthony Torntore and Deputy Attorney General Debra Conrad, Senior Counsel for the Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Division Director Jill Mayer, former Deputy Division Director Christopher Romanyshyn, and Division Director Elie Honig. Deputy Attorney General Susan Wolansky is handling the forfeiture action in this case. The investigation was conducted for the New Jersey State Police by members of the Auto Unit and other members of the Special Investigations Section, including Detective Sgt. Aaron Auclair, Detective Sgt. Jeovanny Rodriguez, Detective Sgt. 1st Class Enrique Bryan, Lt. Ron Micucci, Detective Cory Rodriguez and Trooper Nicholas Rubino.

The following agencies assisted the State Police and Division of Criminal Justice in Operation Jacked:

  1. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police Department
  2. ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Newark (Border Enforcement Security Task Force)
  3. Union County Prosecutor’s Office
  4. Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
  5. Massachusetts State Police
  6. Delaware State Police
  7. Connecticut State Police
  8. Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office
  9. Manalapan Police Department
  10. Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office
  11. U.S. Customs & Border Protection
  12. Bayonne Police Department
  13. Hudson County Sheriff’s Office
  14. U.S. Marshals Service

Valuable assistance also was provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Defense Attorney
For Champagnie: Patrick Joyce, Esq., of Maplewood, N.J.

Follow the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office online at TwitterFacebookInstagram & YouTube. The social media links provided are for reference only. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Video: Scoutmaster Ken Fineran Street Dedication Ceremony

May 21, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ - Millburn Township and Boy Scout Troop 17 of St. Rose of Lima honored the life and accomplishments of late Scoutmaster Kenneth W. Fineran on Sunday, May 20. Troop 17 Scouts, in conjunction with Millburn Township and St. Rose of Lima Church.

Millburn Student's Bike Stolen, Millburn Police Investigating

June 12, 2018

On June 5, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Tavares responded to the Louis Vuitton store at The Mall at Short Hills on a theft report. Louis Vuitton personnel report a black male with dread locks wearing a black t-shirt, red shorts, black leggings, and white/red sneakers took two pairs of sunglasses valued at $870.00 and left the store without making payment. The incident is under investigation by ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 12, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, June 18, 9:00 AM

The Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary, Short Hills

"Pre-summer" Camp at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum ...

Education Green

Mon, June 18, 9:00 AM

The Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary, Short Hills

June Mini-Camp at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum - ...

Education Green

Carousel_image_aff4d28ad6aff582567a_1cc0b4547efb4bb2c9f0_download__3_

Tue, June 19, 7:30 PM

Town Hall - Committee Room, Millburn

Township Committee Meeting

Carousel_image_f26368aa9b02b695afce_3fc10d7c6037ec8915fb_0952ca79b18478625c5395f2431688f1

Tue, June 19, 7:45 PM

Education Center, Millburn

Millburn Board of Education Meeting

NCJW/Essex Hosts The Five Stages of Career Transition with Motivational Speaker Frederica Peterson

June 18, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ -- On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Frederica Peterson, Motivational Speaker and Career Coach, MA, CPC, ELI-MP, engaged nearly 50 women at the Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women about moving forward in one’s career and in life. Peterson examined how many women feel stuck and trapped in negative thoughts, but how with the right mindset it’s possible to ...

Millburn-Short Hills Democratic Committee Looking to Fill District Leader Spots

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ - The Millburn-Short Hills Democratic Committee is stronger than ever and proudly represents itself along with Essex County Executive Joseph Di Vincenzo and newly re-elected Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones at the Essex County Democratic Reorganization meeting.

The local committee currently has a recorded 29 of 32 District Leader spots filled. We have a female ...

Canada Goose Retail Expansion Includes The Mall at Short Hills

CANADA GOOSE CONTINUES RETAIL EXPANSION, ANNOUNCES THREE NEW STORES IN NORTH AMERICA

From the Temperate West Coast to the Cool North East: Set to Open in Vancouver, Short Hills, and Montréal

 

TORONTO, ON – Canada Goose Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GOOS, TSX: GOOS), today announced the next phase of its global retail expansion, opening three stores this fall in Short ...