🚗 NJ man admits to role in $1.5M car theft ring

🚗 Luxury cars were stolen from NJ, NY, CT

🚗 Car was found in Port Newark shipping container

A Union County man was the fourth and final New Jersey resident to admit his role in a luxury car theft ring that stole about $1.5 million in high-end vehicles from NJ, New York and Connecticut.

At least one of the cars stolen in the several month span four years ago was recovered from a shipping container bound for Africa, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced.

Malik Baker, 29, of the Vauxhall section of Union Township, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to conspiring to transport stolen vehicles in interstate commerce and receiving a stolen vehicle that had crossed state lines after being stolen.

Malik Baker (left), Hakeem Smith (right) (Essex County jail)
Malik Baker (left), Hakeem Smith (right) (Essex County jail)

Hakeem Smith, Nafique Goodwyn, and Bilal Cureton — all of Newark — each previously pleaded guilty to similar charges.

The group stole at least 10 luxury cars from towns in NJ, NY and CT and hid those cars at a location in Irvington, between July and September 2019.

Some towns hit by 2019 car theft ring (Google Maps)
Some towns hit by 2019 car theft ring (Google Maps)

🚘 2017 Maserati GranTurismo, stolen from Manalapan
🚘 2014 Lexus GS, stolen from West Long Branch
🚘 2017 BMW M4, stolen from Marlton

🚘 2017 BMW Alpina, stolen from Hewlett Bay Park (Long Island)
🚘 2017 Mercedes S550 stolen from Hewlett Bay Park (Long Island)
🚘 2019 Rolls Royce stolen from Hewlett Bay Park (Long Island)
🚘 2019 Land Rover, stolen from Kensington (Long Island)
🚘 2019 Mercedes Maybach, stolen from Quogue (Long Island)

🚘 2018 Range Rover stolen from New City (Hudson Valley)
🚘 2019 Porsche Cayenne stolen from New City (Hudson Valley)
🚘 2017 Mercedes AMG S63, stolen from Orangeburg (Hudson Valley)
🚘 2019 BMW X4 M40i, stolen from Greenwich, CT

The men often used the stolen cars to steal others — including using the Maserati GranTurisimo stolen from Manalapan to steal a Range Rover and a Porsche Cayenne in Rockland County, NY.

When officers tried to stop them, the Maserati sped up and crashed head-on into a police vehicle before the suspects fled in another stolen vehicle.

Nafique Goodwyn (left), Bilal Cureton (right) (Essex County jail)
Nafique Goodwyn (left), Bilal Cureton (right) (Essex County jail)

Law enforcement later recovered one of the stolen Mercedes from a shipping container at Port Newark, that was destined for Ghana, Africa.

Sentencing for Baker was scheduled for March 7, 2024.

Conviction of conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison, while receiving stolen vehicles is punishable by a maximum of 10 years.

Both charges are punishable by a fine up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offenses, whichever is greatest.

In April, Smith was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

Sentences were pending for Goodwyn and Cureton.

Recovered stolen cars Port Newark (CPB.gov) (2)
Recovered stolen cars Port Newark (CPB.gov)

Port Newark shipping containers at center of separate fed busts

Earlier this year, another two dozen stolen vehicles were recovered at Port Newark before they could be shipped overseas.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection worked with the Coast Guard and Homeland Security, as well as NJ State Police, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and Port Authority Police to carry out a five-day “Operation Terminus” in February.

A total of 23 stolen vehicles destined for Western African countries (Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Monrovia and Liberia) were recovered, for an estimated value of $1.3 million.

In that operation, law enforcement also found 109 rounds of various caliber ammunition, concealed in one of the vehicles.

By late September, federal agents at the Port New York/Newark had recovered 365 stolen vehicles, this fiscal year alone.

The 10 Most Stolen Vehicles In New Jersey

Gallery Credit: Jeff Deminski

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