Three Chicago Men Arrested in Florida-Based Vehicle Cloning Scheme
|FBI Chicago March 24, 2009|
Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced today the arrest of three Chicago men for their involvement in a Florida based vehicle cloning scheme.
OVIDIO R. HERNANDEZ, age 47, of 2618 West 15th Place; GERMAN D. RODRIGUEZ, age 50, of 3337 North Kedzie Avenue; and JAVIER SOLIS, age 42, of 2338 North Melvina, all of Chicago, were arrested earlier today, without incident, by FBI special agents at their respective residences. All three were charged in a federal grand jury indictment, unsealed today in Tampa, Florida, with violation of numerous federal criminal statutes, including conspiracy, interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle, and trafficking in motor vehicles with false identification numbers, all of which are felony offenses.
According to the indictment, HERNANDEZ, RODRIGUEZ, and SOLIS were part of an organized group, based in the Tampa, Florida area, which trafficked in stolen motor vehicles, mainly late model and high-end luxury cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Many of the stolen cars had their vehicle identification numbers (VINs) altered and were then sent to other parts of the country or Mexico, were they were re-sold to unwitting buyers.
Car cloning is the process in which a stolen vehicle is “re-tagged” with counterfeit labels, plates and stickers, essentially giving it the identity of a non-stolen vehicle. These automobiles can then be represented and sold as legitimate cars within the United States.
The arrests announced today were the result of the three-year investigation code named “Operation Dual Identity,” which involved numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies across the country. Invaluable assistance was also provided by several insurance companies and the Chicago-based National Insurance Crime Bureau. Locally, the Cook, Du Page, and Kane County Auto Theft Task Forces assisted with the investigation.
HERNANDEZ, RODRIGUEZ, and SOLIS are scheduled to appear at 2:00 p.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Sidney Shenkier in Chicago, at which time they will be formally charged. If convicted of the charges filed against them, HERNANDEZ, RODRIGUEZ, and SOLIS face a possible sentence of up to 15 years’ incarceration.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Copies of the grand jury indictment filed in this case are available from the Chicago FBI’s press office at (312) 829-1199.