SAN DIEGO (CBS) — Four Southland residents are behind bars on Thursday in a cross-border car theft ring that shipped luxury vehicles to Iraq.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports 13 people in all were arrested in what federal law enforcement officials dubbed “Operation Hot Wheels”.

Sabah Hermiz, 57, of Sterling Heights, Mich., and El Cajon residents Sala Hanna, 57, Samir Daly, 48, and Ramzi Yousef, 58, were arrested in the San Diego area this week.

The two-year-old investigation targeted Iraqi nationals who would rent expensive cars from national chains in Michigan and Ohio, drive them across the border into Canada, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

They would then file police reports claiming the vehicles were carjacked or stolen in the Detroit area, officials said.

“Several of the vehicles involved were rented in El Cajon and driven from El Cajon to Detroit and into Canada,” said ICE spokesman Dan Paige.

In addition to the suspects arrested in El Cajon, nine others were arrested in Detroit. All are facing federal charges of transporting stolen property. In addition, Hermiz faces conspiracy charges, according to ICE.

Danieal Korkis, 46, also of Sterling, Mich., remains at large, according to ICE.

The arrests come weeks after several Iraqi-Americans in early August were charged with smuggling drugs across the border and shipping them to Detroit.

Comments (38)
  1. Barney says:

    They drive luxury cars in Iraq ???, thought we bombed them back to the Stone Age

    1. A. Levy says:

      Yes, i believe our immigration policies are too restrictive and our borders too tight. We should do away with ALL controls on who comes here. In that way, we won’t have to worry about our children seeing the end of America. We’ll see it long before they grow up!

      We have become some of the weakest, dumbest people on the planet.

      1. PatricParamedic says:

        A Levy –

        I wish to God I could think of a single flaw in your statement.

        I cannot. You are painfully correct.

        This United States of America ignores the basic border and immigration security protocols of even the most rudimentary nations on earth.

        By continuing immigration as we do, we are being mind-numbingly stupid.

        We get what we allow. Our military will never be defeated in traditional ways.

        But this country will collapse under the sheer weight of its appallingly insane ego.

  2. TT says:

    After all the sacrafices our troops have made there over the last 10 years or so – sad to see this happening here ….Awsome Job by Law Enforcement for putting a stop to it. Keep up the good work 🙂

    1. keb buc says:

      You are truly an idiot. You should start a club, perhaps name it Idiotas de los dos lados.

      You would be the supervisor, of course.

    2. Jimmy says:

      I think that you are wrong. The isrealis have nothing to do with this . You are damn right that the US is protecting them.. i await the day that Iran opens its mouth again, and isreal drops a nuke on them.

    3. Ann Monis says:

      Dude, you are so pathetic with that comment.

    4. Dude says:

      You might not be aware, but it is possible to express one’s opinion without being a complete jerk. Telling others to shut up is pretty weak – it says you’re not willing to engage them in a meaningful conversation. (Yeah, I know, it’s an anonymous comment board, but still…) It seems like you were looking for an excuse to express your angst toward Israel. You’re entitled to your opinion, but please find a different, more relevant article for this purpose.

    5. Dr. 9 says:

      Actually, most Isreali nationals in the US are involved in heavy-duty Heroin smuggling, not stolen cars.

  3. Maury says:

    Figures they would choose Detroit, lol.

    1. TT says:

      just to be clear – my comment was to the “part B” of his statement directed toward me – I stay away from any religiuos affiliation with any of this reference…..

  4. Lady Liberty says:

    How many more incidents like this will it take for us here in this country to stop funneling in all the request to come here? The rules are not strict enough. These immigrants clearly find out how and what they can illegally do and then they do it. These immigrants come here and disrupt and create hazzardous situations for “we the people” with the help of their already knowledable friends on how you can decieve and destroy and still continue to stay here. It is all to the point of disgusting.

    1. andy says:

      Lady Liberty – could you be any more ignorant? I doubt it. We are a nation of immigrants – I doubt you are 100% native american, but I could be wrong. I would also bet that these individuals were “legal” immigrants, but I could be wrong – doubtful, but possible. By the way, my other guess is that most of these Chaldean Christians probably spell and write English better than the majority of the morons on here. No, I’m not Chaldean, I am of Polish descent, but have worked extensively with Chaldeans during numerous (4) train-ups and deployments to Iraq and they are typically very well educated.

      1. Dude says:

        There are criminals in every people group. This is why we have laws. The depravity is definitely more obvious in some people groups than others, but we’re all pretty messed up in one way another. Who are we kidding?

  5. TheWindrunner says:

    That which had made us a great nation, is now the cause of our demise. We have turned into the new Australia where criminals were banished from Britain, and sent to an island to keep them away from society. Liberalism is death to any civilized society!

  6. Facts Are Not Racist says:

    You think this was a group of Chaldean Christian Iraqis?
    You came to that conclusion because the article did not mention their religion?
    Me thinks you are a muslim trying to redirect any blame that just might come your way.

    1. JUST SAY'N says:

      Why would you think someone who steals ,and sells drugs is a Christian? I would think that the actions of these people say other wise.

    2. JUST SAY'N says:


    3. andy says:

      Actually there are no Muslims in Sterling Heights, MI, but there is the largest concentration in the world of Chaldean Christians there…….

    4. Dude says:

      By “Christian,” do you mean non-Muslim? It’s sort of like generalizing that America is a “Christian” nation. I mean, some of the Italian mob attend Roman Catholic services. Does that make them Christian? I’m asking rhetorically, realizing that many will answer one way or the other.

      Even so, we’re generalizing here based solely on our own experiences – we could be entirely wrong. I think we should exercise caution in putting people in one box or another.

  7. Wayne Martin says:

    Wonder if this is the whole “ring”, or just the tip of the iceberg?

  8. Ken Madison says:

    Why do we even let these rag heads in our country? All they do is scam and milk our system. Send them all back the sh**hole country they came from.

  9. FRANK says:

    We already have too many non-compliant immigrants and should stop all of it until we can elect someone with enough guts to deport any immigrant for any violation of our laws beyond a speeding ticket. In this time of poor economic conditions, we need to purge America of as many parasites as possible.

    1. Jesse Garcia says:

      The deportation of Criminal Aliens is at record pace under the Obama Administration. And what, pray tell, shall we do of the criminal citizens whom commit crimes beyond that of a speeding ticket? Shall we place them behind bars as well? You do know that there are a vast number of Civil, not Criminal, infractions that are beyond speeding right? Do we start locking up jaywalkers? People whom play music too loud? People whom break curfew? The list could go on. What about European immigrants whom come here and commit crimes as well, or is this sentiment only aimed at immigrants with skin other than white?

      1. Jeff G says:

        Garcia you are a typically uninformed libral moron. Not only is the deportation of criminal ILLEGAL ALIENS down under the illegal in chief. He and idiot Holder and Janet Incomiptano recently decided to not deport criminal aliens based on degree of crime. Which means NO deportations. If somebody does not have enough respect for our laws to come here ILLEGALLY and then continue to break our laws, they should be sent back for GOOD. Unlike what the Illegal in Chief’s aunt and uncle have done by ignoring deportation orders and going to court. Just because you want to do something,,, ie- come here ILLEGALLY, doesn’t mean we have to let you!!!!!!!!!

  10. Unreal says:

    Ramzi Yousef
    Wasn’t that the name of one of the terrorist behind the 1993 WTC bombing? What a coincidence.

  11. Juan de la taco says:

    Juanito says that this is happening at our southern border for yeaprs. The Messicans smuggle illegals and drugs through the non existent border while another group (protected by organized crime in the North) steal luxury cars and drive them back across the border where they are shipped to the Arab states. Now we have illegals from Iraq going north. Does anybody in Washington want to have the cajones to secure our borders and let only LEGALs in. Every other country in the world does

    1. stesse says:

      Wait! We will need those smuggling ties when our leaders shut Second Amendment rights to guns and ammunition. They will be amigos buenos for us then.

  12. Elvis says:

    what are they gonna do slap their hand and say be good boys don’t do it again.
    They will be back at it again in a month, Gov’s to easy on criminals plus the jails are all full anyway!

  13. stesse says:

    You can take the people out of Babylon, but you can’t take Babylon out of the people.

  14. Hank Warren says:

    Stolen cars, is this why we fight in Iraq and Afghanistan? No. The US supports endless Wars for Israel, it all started nearly a decade ago under a false flag attack.
    9/11 and Israel, here:

  15. liberalism is a mental diisorder says:

    This is the gratitutde we get for allowing and supporting these refugees into this Country. Unlike, the immigrants of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the majority of refugees and immigrants, legal and illegal, are supported by Taxpayers, are unwilling to assimilate, demand that we conform to them, hate our Country and heritage, and are gangsters. It’s time to stop this madness, We owe the World nothing. Our blood, treasure, and stupid “Free Trade Policies” have transferred our wealth to our enemies.!

  16. Paul Scipio says:

    This is all from the thousands of Muslims that George Bush and Obozo let into the country for the last 8 years. Muslims do not fit in a Western society, they will not assimilate, do not cooperate with police investigations and for the most part are criminally inclined. It’s easy to commit crimes over here and unlike in their former countries they don’t get shot or have limbs cut off here like they did there. These Muslims need to be rounded up and DEPORTED back to their cesspools of origins.

  17. bubble says:

    Hello, thank you for sharing your ideas in this post. This is really an awesome website.

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