U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized a stolen 2018 Cadillac Escalade, valued at more than $57,000 at the Port of Wilmington late last month.
The recovery was one of a record 16 stolen vehicles that CBP officers at the Port of Wilmington seized during fiscal year 2019, which ended on Sept. 30.
The combined value of the stolen vehicles is $454,007, also a port record.
CBP officers routinely examine outbound vehicle shipments and encountered the Escalade destined for Togo in West Africa on Sept. 1.
Officers discovered that the Escalade’s visible vehicle identification number belonged to a 2018 Mercedes Benz and detained the vehicle for a thorough examination.
Officers were able to trace the Escalade’s true VIN to a stolen vehicle report from Charlotte, N.C. Officers confirmed with Minnesota authorities that the vehicle’s state title presented with the export documents was fraudulent.
“Export examinations are a critical component of Customs and Border Protection’s trade enforcement and border security missions because we know that transnational criminal organizations use stolen vehicles as currency and hide other illicit financial proceeds in outbound cargo,” said Casey Durst, director of field operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “CBP officers remain committed to intercepting these illegal exports and striking back financially against criminal groups who hurt U.S. consumers through auto theft and other unlawful practices.”
The 16 recovered stolen vehicles eclipsed the port’s previous high of seven stolen vehicle recoveries in 2012. All but two of these stolen vehicles were being shipped to nations in West Africa.