Five vehicles intercepted by the Canada Border Services Agency in shipping containers at the Port of Montreal had documents indicating Discount Auto Sales in Detroit as the export agent, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
At the time of the scheme, Hana owned Discount Auto Sales, authorities said.
The investigation was dubbed “Operation Hot Wheels.”
Starting in July 2008, seven vehicles were rented from national chains in Detroit, Ohio and California and driven into Canada via an international tunnel beneath the Detroit River or across the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron north of the city.
Once the vehicles were in Canada, the drivers returned to the United States and reported the vehicles stolen in Detroit.
“Criminal groups often believe they are employing ingenious techniques to further their illicit activity,” said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Detroit. “In a global law enforcement environment, however, Homeland Security ... has the sophisticated tools and resources it needs to follow a lengthy paper trail.”
Adnan Hana, 57, of Sterling Heights is accused of entering Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on July 10, 2008, in a rented Dodge Journey. Jason Hana, 27, of Sterling Heights is accused of passing through the tunnel in a second car.
Less than 12 hours later, both returned in the vehicle driven by Jason Hana.
The Journey was reported stolen 18 days later.
An Infinity, two Toyota Avalons, a Chevy Tahoe, a Toyota Highlander and a second Journey were other vehicles involved in the scheme.
Seven other Sterling Heights residents, a man from nearby Warren, and three people from El Cajon, Calif., also were arrested. Another Sterling Heights man was charged, but not immediately arrested.