Federal, state and local law enforcement have dismantled an international car theft ring that centered mostly around the Garden State. The ring was responsible for the exportation and attempted exportation of stolen vehicles to various countries, primarily in West Africa.

Most of the defendants charged were arrested by federal and state law enforcement agents Wednesday morning. Another defendant was already in state prison on unrelated charges. Other suspects remain at large.

“This investigation is part of our continuing, multi-agency effort to ensure the safety of our citizens by strengthening the security of our seaports,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. At a press conference, Fishman credited the year-and-a-half investigation to officials across the state and nation.

The theft ring was responsible for the theft of about 200 cars in three states – New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. About ten percent of the cars were stolen through carjackings. The vehicles stolen ranged from Porsches to Hondas.

“The cars were ultimately re-vinned; the paper work, the titles were falsified,” said John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Officials recovered the hundreds of vehicles, at an estimated price tag of $6 million dollars, before they could be shipped overseas from seaports in Newark and Elizabeth.

According to authorities, the overseas market for stolen and carjacked vehicles is growing. The organization operated in multiple layers, from local gang members to people with a wide customer base overseas.

“This is good old fashioned criminal conspiracy, trying to make money by breaking the law,” Morton said.