Thursday, August 16, 2007
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Forty-seven cars reported stolen in Mexico have been recovered in San Diego and suburban Chula Vista.
The Mexican-registered vehicles may have been used for transporting contraband north into the U.S., according to California Highway Patrol Lt. John Marinez. The cars had been confiscated by U.S. authorities or found at shopping mall parking lots.
Authorities in Mexico's Baja California state and the CHP launched a joint operation to recover the cars to prevent them from being registered in the U.S.
"They have helped us greatly in that regard, so we thought we would look into the possibility of locating some of their stolen vehicles on our side of the border," Marinez said.
Cross-border criminal rings have made a business of selling stolen Mexican cars north of the border over the past decade, helped by a registration process that doesn't typically involve checking vehicle records in Mexico, authorities said.
It is still more common for cars stolen in the United States to be found in Mexico. Last year, the CHP recovered 4,094 cars in Mexico with a cumulative value of $5.7 million, Marinez said. Two months ago 77 stolen cars with American plates were found in Mexican impound lots, Marinez said.