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U.S. Busts Crime Ring Tied To Georgia, Armenia, Russia

Fourteen stolen cars from the crime ring were seized in Georgia (RFE/RL) 16 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Police in Los Angeles say they have arrested eight people allegedly involved in an international fraud ring that may have sent millions of dollars' worth of stolen cars to countries including Georgia, Russia, Armenia, and Jordan.

The Los Angeles Police Department said the alleged fraud operation was conducted through through a fake charity pretending to send humanitarian aid from the United States in shipping containers.

Police said 14 stolen cars linked to the fraud were seized by authorities in Georgia with the assistance of the Los Angeles police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Detectives said that last year, two shipping containers from the false charity were seized in Texas and found to contain a small number of women's shoes and two expensive sports utility vehicles hidden behind false walls.

Investigators said they determined that the fake charity made more than 200 shipments overseas in the past two years, and officials estimated that cars worth a total of some $5 million may have been among the shipments.

(with material from AP)

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