Smuggling of high-end vehicles in the region is increasing

Some criminals in the region target and steal high-end vehicles before smuggling them into neighboring countries, including Zimbabwe, where false documents are fabricated before the vehicles are sold.

Smuggling of vehicles by syndicates from South Africa across the Limpopo River, usually a very shallow and almost dry river, is commonplace and most vehicles will be en route to Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, although some are destined for Zimbabwe. market.

This prompted Interpol to launch an operation named “Take Back”, targeting stolen cars around the world and the ZRP is among the countries participating in the operation.

So far, 200 premium vehicles, all believed to have been stolen and smuggled into Zimbabwe, have been seized in a joint operation between the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Interpol targeting stolen vehicles in SADC.

The operation, which began last week, is regional and Zimbabwe is playing its part.

Most of the vehicles seized in Zimbabwe are believed to have been stolen and smuggled into the country using false documents before their engines and chassis numbers were tampered with to obtain genuine local registration.

According to Interpol, “vehicle crime is a highly organized criminal activity that affects all regions of the world and has clear links to organized crime and terrorism”.

“The term “vehicle crime” refers to the theft and trafficking of vehicles and the illicit trade in spare parts. These activities affect personal property, businesses, the economy and public safety in all regions of the world. “

Interpol said organized motor vehicle theft, while of immediate concern to the individual owner, also has financial implications for insurance companies, damages the reputation of car manufacturers and, in most cases, is related to other organized crimes.

“For organized crime groups, acquiring, shipping and trading stolen vehicles is a low-risk way to make a profit. Stolen vehicles are often trafficked in order to fund and conduct crimes. other criminal activities, ranging from drug trafficking, arms trafficking, smuggling and international terrorism.

“Additionally, the illicit parts market is a lucrative source of revenue for criminal organizations and offers them many practical uses.

“Not only does this phenomenon have a financial impact on the industry, but it also puts drivers at risk because illicit spare parts are likely to fall below recognized safety standards,” Interpol said.

Recently, South African law enforcement officers seized a Toyota Hilux Legend 50 and a Toyota Prado along the Limpopo River. Law enforcement officers also recovered another gray Ford Ranger which was abandoned by the criminals who fled to Zimbabwe.

Six undocumented people were then arrested with a stolen Mitsubishi truck.

On Monday, smugglers tried to smuggle a white Toyota Land Cruiser from South Africa to Mozambique, but abandoned the vehicle while being chased. They stopped the vehicle and fled on foot into the bushes.

The following day, Tuesday, around 3 a.m., the smugglers again attempted to smuggle two Toyota Legend 50 bakkies, a Toyota Fortuner and a Toyota Hilux truck into Mozambique.

The smugglers fired on the soldiers and during the firefight one of the smugglers was shot dead.

South African Police Services officer commanding Joint Tactical Headquarters Mpumalanga, Lt. Col. Mbekiseni Eshmond Ndlangamandla, who also visited the scene, has since encouraged deployed soldiers to ensure the border is completely closed.

He stressed that the deployed soldiers should curb cross-border crime, supporting the words of the company commander who said that despite the intimidation of the smugglers, his company will continue to work until the mission is accomplished.

In 2020, around 248,976 motor vehicles worldwide were reported as stolen.

In 2014, Interpol and ZRP also carried out an operation codenamed “Usalamu” targeting stolen vehicles.

The operation was being carried out in other Interpol member countries and law enforcement officers were targeting Isuzu trucks and Toyota Fortuner SUVs, which were smuggled in and out of the country.

Police were setting up roadblocks in and around Harare, along with Interpol agents.

Nearly 7.2 million cars were stolen in 127 countries around the world in 2013. Many vehicles were lost in carjackings, while others were stolen from parking lots.

In 2005, 3,296,263 vehicles were stolen, in 2012 there were 7,250,909, 7,097,877 in 2011 and in 2010 there were 7,156,792 reports. In 2004, the figure was 7,288,741.

Interpol is the largest international police organization in the world, with 190 members. Its role is to enable police around the world to work together and to be able to receive, consolidate and disseminate information for member forces.

All member countries are connected through a secure communication system called I-24/7. This gives police real-time access to criminal databases containing millions of records worldwide.

Interpol’s unique advisory system is used to alert member countries to fugitives, dangerous criminals, missing persons and weapons threats.

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