WARREN, NJ - Tyja Evans, 39, of Watchung, and Ibn Jones, 37, of Newark were among 21 people indicted on first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering in connection with Operation 17 Corridor, a major international carjacking and stolen car trafficking ring, Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy announced Friday.

Evans and Jones were charged with leading the auto theft trafficking network.

Ninety stolen cars from across New Jersey, worth more than $4 million, were recovered and twenty-two people were arrested.

“These 22 defendants executed a real life ‘Grand Theft Auto’ scheme which terrorized suburban residents and luxury car owners,” stated Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police in a release. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the State Police Interstate Theft North Unit, Port Authority of NY and NJ Police, and a multitude of law enforcement agencies, we can officially say GAME OVER.”

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Thieves would search wealthy neighborhoods and find high-end cars unlocked with the key fob in the glove box, according to the release. 

"Some cars were taken through carjackings, while others were taken in 'soft steals' from locations where the thieves were able to steal them with their electronic keys or key fobs, which are critical to the resale value of the cars," said Lougy. "Within the ring, individuals filled various roles, including carjacker, car thief, wheel man, fence, shipper and buyer. Shippers would load the cars into shipping containers, which were taken to ports for transport by ship to West Africa."

“In their quest for luxury vehicles, members of this ring ambushed people in suburban driveways and outside malls and restaurants, at times brandishing handguns,” said Lougy. “Carjackings of this type can easily turn deadly, as we have witnessed in cases like the murder at The Mall at Short Hills. By dismantling this criminal network and putting its members behind bars, we have ended their reign of terror and made our communities safer.”

 

Leaders

  1. Tyja Evans, 39, of Watchung, N.J.;and
  2. Ibn Jones, 37, of Newark, N.J.

Shippers and High-Level Fences

  1. Peter Cleland, 33, of East Orange, N.J.;
  2. Sowah Anan, 31, of Elizabeth, N.J.;
  3. Adama Fofana, 53, of the Bronx, N.Y.; and
  4. Alpha Jalloh, 27, of New York, N.Y.

Rental Car Thefts

  1. Julian Atta-Poku, 34, of Queens Village, N.Y. (allegedly coordinated sales of stolen rental cars); and
  2. Andrea Brown, 25, of Jamaica, N.Y. (allegedly used fraudulent credit cards and driver’s licenses to rent cars which she stole).

Street-Level Fences

  1. Eric Aikens, 40, of Newark, N.J.;
  2. Levell Burnett, 39, of Newark, N.J.; and
  3. Damion Mikell, 33, of Newark, N.J.

Carjackers, Car Thieves and/or Wheel Men

  1. Derrick Moore, 36, of Keansburg, N.J.;
  2. Rashawn Gartrell, 37, of Irvington, N.J.,
  3. Kenneth Daniels, 30, of Newark, N.J.;
  4. Tyree Johnson, 23, of Newark, N.J.;
  5. Donnel Carroll, 28, of Newark, N.J.;
  6. Khalil Culbreath, 38, of Newark, N.J.;
  7. Terrence Wilson, 39, of Newark, N.J.;
  8. Marquis Price, 32, of Newark, N.J.;
  9. Frazier Gibson, 29, of Montclair, N.J., and
  10. Alterique Jones, 41, of Maplewood, N.J.

The 22nd defendant named in the indictment is Dominique E. Diaz, 29, of Newark, N.J., who is charged with third-degree attempted theft for allegedly participating with Derrick Moore in the attempted theft of a Jeep Grand Cherokee in Upper Saddle River on Nov. 26, 2014.

Four defendants charged in the case previously pleaded guilty:

  • Eddie Craig, 36, of Beverly, N.J., pleaded guilty on Feb. 11 to first-degree racketeering and faces a recommended sentence of nine years in prison, including nearly eight years of parole ineligibility. 
  • Nasir Tuner, 36, of Newark, N.J., pleaded guilty on March 1 to first-degree racketeering and faces a recommended sentence of 11 years in prison, including more than nine years of parole ineligibility.
  • Manuel Olivares pleaded guilty on Jan. 13 to second-degree racketeering and faces a recommended sentence of seven years in prison. 
  • Panel Dalce, 43, of South Orange, N.J., pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2015 to second-degree racketeering and faces a recommended sentence of six years in prison.