8 charged as members of same cargo theft ring authorities broke up 10 years ago
By Patrick McGovern | The Jersey Journal
More than 10 years ago, Edward Mongon was sentenced to 13 years in prison as the leader of the highly organized "Conrail Boys," theft ring that netted more than $5 million in merchandise stolen from trains passing through North Jersey.
At the time, authorities thought they had ended the gang's 11-year crime spree, having convicted 24 people who they said were members of the gang.
Today Mongon was back in front of a judge, this time one of three men authorities say revived the Conrail Boys cargo theft gang. Four other men and a woman were charged as part of the ring and also appeared in Central Judicial Processing court.
Mongon, 40, of North Bergen, John Forcum, 37, of Parsippany, and Elie Kammo of Union City were charged with having more than $75,000 worth of stolen property in their possession, according to the criminal complaints.
Bail for Mongon and Forcum was set at $100,000 cash or bond; and Kammo's bail was set at $55,000 cash or bond bail by Judge Kelly Austin. Court officials say Forcum has 20 prior arrests in New Jersey. Electronic court records show that Mongon has multiple convictions dating back to the early 1990s.
Others charged today are Jersey City residents Denis Ford, 40, Amparo Diaz-Cruz, 45, Marciano Vazquez and Ramy Darwiche, 25; and Andrez Gonzalez, 56, of Cliffside Park.
It could not be immediately determined when Mongon was released from prison.
At the time of Mongon's sentencing, a spokesman for the state Division of Crimimal Justice called the Conrail Boys an "extensive, well-coordinated criminal cartel" that stole millions of dollars in merchandise and cash from freight trains in North Jersey.
In 2004 authorities described how gang's operation from 1992 to 2003:
Members of the gang would leap onto slow-moving trains and, using bolt cutters and other tools, break into the truck trailers and shipping containers that held merchandise.
The goods were thrown off the train onto the side of the tracks as the train continued moving. Accomplices on the ground gathered the stolen items and moved them to a secret collection point where they were sold to local fences.
Special task force interrupts $1 million LeBron James sneaker heist By Kontji Anthony
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -A man accused of trying to steal nearly $1 million of LeBron James sneakers using a trailer didn't get very far thanks to a highly trained task force. Read Article
KANSAS CITY, Mo. --A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison for his role in the theft of commercial trucks and their cargo over a 14-year period.
Kenneth Borders, 43, of Kansas City, received the punishment on Monday. He was also ordered to pay nearly $1.3 million in restitution to 27 victims. Borders and two other men in February were convicted of stealing trucks and trailers in Missouri, Kansas, Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska since 1998.
The men stole $125,000 worth of frozen ribs, nearly $60,000 in chicken wings and about 21,000 pounds of Little Sizzler sausages. Authorities say they sold the items cheaply to anyone who would buy it, sometimes out of the back of the trailer.
By Amos Maki
In November, a trailer full of new, pre-released LeBron James shoes made by Nike was stolen in the Memphis area.
But thanks to a local task force dedicated to stopping cargo theft, the Oregon-based sports apparel giant, which operates a massive distribution center in Frayser, was able to recover nearly all of the shoes, which were valued at around $700,000.
As a worldwide distribution hub, Memphis is often ground zero for cargo thieves who look to steal everything from household goods to electronics and clothing apparel like the LeBron James shoes.
“If somebody wants something, it can be stolen and there is a market for it,” said Memphis Police Department Detective James “Drew” Harden, the police department’s representative on the Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force.
“Think of the monetary gain if someone stole a 53-foot trailer and sold the merchandise for profit,” said Harden. “Even at pennies on the dollar, there’s still a lot of profit.”
The Task Force is comprised of representatives from the FBI, Memphis Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol and is one of seven task forces the FBI has tasked nationwide with policing the activity. Next fall, Memphis will play host to a national cargo theft conference with more than 300 representatives from law enforcement agencies from across the U.S.
Cargo theft is a now multibillion-dollar criminal industry, one whose impact eventually trickles down to the price consumers pay at the checkout line.
“It increases the prices you and I pay at virtually any store,” said Todd McCall, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis division.
Electronics, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals and clothing remain popular items for thieves, but Harden and McCall said household items such as clothes detergent have increasingly been targeted.
“You’re not likely to see a rash of thefts of potatoes, but if you’re talking about gaming systems or smartphones, you’re looking at a couple million dollars running down the road in these trailers,” said McCall.
Harden and McCall described a murky underworld where criminal outfits and greedy employees are waiting to steal a shipment. In most cases it’s a low-risk, high-reward crime.
“It’s a crime that doesn’t necessarily involve a huge amount of violence,” said McCall. “You can be in and out with a significant theft in a short amount of time.”
Some thefts are inside jobs in which an employee steals cargo or tips off criminals who do the dirty work. Others are the result of criminal organizations that will track shipments from manufacturers or distribution centers for hundreds of miles, patiently waiting for the right time to pounce.
Harden and McCall said it wasn’t uncommon for thieves to target truck stops, where they wait for a driver to leave his rig unattended or follow it until another opportunity becomes available, such as when a container is deposited at a drop lot.
“You will see thousands of tractor-trailer rigs parked at truck stops every night and it’s a common thing for thieves to want to steal those,” said McCall.
“It’s easier for them to find a trailer in a lot where they can cut the lock and get the trailer and leave,” said McCall. “Some of these individuals are very good and look for specific loads and others are more opportunistic.”
After stealing the cargo, the thieves have to sell their goods and reach out to their own distribution chain, hawking their stolen merchandise on the Internet, to mom-and-pop convenience stores or to trusted friends.
“To me, it is the very definition of organized crime,” said Harden. “These cargo thieves are local crews and crews that travel the country.”
From Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014, the Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force made 60 arrests, up from 45 the year before. Around $3 million in property was recovered or seized, along with $400,000 in cash. Arrests can often trigger federal prosecutions because interstate commerce is involved.
As the task force cracks down in the Memphis area, the thieves are adjusting.
“Now they’re moving into smaller jurisdictions outside Memphis,” said Harden. “We’ve been successful and industry has stepped up its security, so it’s pushing it outside Memphis.”
Reducing Cargo Theft
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By Deborah Catalano Ruriani
Tags: Transportation, Safety
Cargo theft results in billions of dollars of loss every year in the United States, but taking precautions can minimize the risk. FreightWatch International's Supply Chain Intelligence Center offers the following advice for securing your supply chain, and reducing cargo theft.
1. Conduct thorough background investigations. Driver turnover continues to be an enormous vulnerability in the supply chain, ranging from 90 percent to 130 percent per quarter for the past several years. Shippers should conduct due diligence initiatives when sourcing transportation requirements, as well as conduct thorough background investigations on anyone handling the product during the shipping process.
2. Prepare your facility. Warehouse burglaries are the highest-value incidents due to the large volume of product stored in a single location. Routine inspections will deter complacency and identify emerging vulnerabilities.
3. Conduct security awareness training. Drivers are the first level of defense in the fight against cargo crime, and their awareness is paramount. They must know the threats and the best practices to countermand those threats.
4. Keep current on theft trends, hot spot locations, and the products prevalently stolen. Shippers and carriers must track the trends pertaining to cargo theft, including timing and circadian frequency of cargo theft, seasonal fluctuation, and high threat areas. Supply chain professionals should also tune in to theft trends across commodity in order to make informed decisions during their risk analysis process.
5. Be prepared for the holidays. Historically, cargo theft increases during holiday weekends for transportation companies, shippers, and manufacturers. Shippers should strive to maintain a delivery-without-delay system, and facilities should exercise additional caution during this period by supplementing layers of physical security and auditing current emergency management processes. No time is more vulnerable than an extended holiday weekend.
6. Create an in-transit security policy. Perfect practice makes perfect performance. In-transit security procedures will vary based on commodity, location, and weather. Apply careful analysis to your enterprise's logistics footprint in order to determine the most feasible and applicable in-transit security policy.
7. Reduce the time loads are left unattended. Cargo at rest is cargo at risk. In the past 12 months, almost 90 percent of cargo theft in the United States has occurred at an unsecured or unattended location away from the origin. Truckstops dominate this scene as truckers often leave their loads unattended for hours at a time.
8. Vary routes and lanes. Organized cargo thieves are smart, methodical, and patient. They invest time in planning, and a key part of their planning is surveillance. Varying your lane and shipping schedule is critical.
9. Use assisted-GPS covert tracking technology embedded in cargo. Electronic Freight Security is a dynamic tool that allows a shipper to maintain full visibility of cargo for the shipment's duration. Immediate response and resolution to non-compliance incidents reduces opportunities for theft.
10. Take a layered approach. A Security-In-Depth or Defense-In-Depth approach is paramount to thwarting cargo theft. The three integral and synchronized pieces are people, procedures, and technology. Supply chain professionals should strive to have an efficient security solution from dock to door.