03/13/2014 01:14 EDT | Updated 05/13/2014 05:59 EDT

International auto theft ring busted in Alberta, Quebec

Alberta police have busted an international auto theft ring responsible for the theft of more than 100 high-end trucks, SUVs, and luxury sedans from Quebec motorists.

The ring was highly organized, with some people assigned to stealing particular makes of vehicles, others with manufacturing counterfeit vehicle identification papers, and others responsible for registrations and “legitimizing” the vehicles, said Mike Tucker, spokesman for Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams, or ALERT, which led the investigation.

The ring would steal vehicles in Quebec, then re-identify them using counterfeit vehicles identification numbers.

The vehicles would then be registered by federally numbered corporations at registries in Alberta and other provinces using fraudulent bills of sale and new vehicle information statements cards.

The vehicles would be re-registered in Quebec and sold at steep discounts through a network of friends and associates.

Half of vehicles recovered

So far, police have recovered 53 of the stolen vehicles with some found in Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, and Quebec, Tucker said.

Seven of the vehicles were traced to Ghana, Africa and two more were intercepted en route to Costa Rica.  

The ring, which had ties to organized crime, ran complex scheme that took investigators over one year to unravel, Tucker said.   

The investigation began in November 2012 and involved several law enforcement agencies in Quebec and Alberta.

Several Alberta and Quebec suspects have been identified, and investigators are in the process of recommending charges in consultation with crown prosecutors, Tucker said. 

Police estimate the value of the recovered vehicles exceeds $3 million.