It starts out so simple. A stolen car ended up in the hands of a Plymouth, Minn. man, but when you start to peel back the layers, it appears it was linked to a much bigger scheme that involves hundreds of stolen Mercedes Benz that end up in Africa.
Court documents show 300 to 400 Mercedes have been stolen from around the country over the last two years, a few of them out of Plano, Texas. One of those Plano cars ended up parked in the driveway of a Plymouth townhome, the resident, 39-year-old Vladimir Chevtayev, claiming the car was his.
The dealer plate was registered to All Auto Care and Sales in Hopkins, which looks like a garage with a few luxury cars, where they wouldn't offer comment. The owner of the shop is 45-year-old Valeriy Loevski. On site, police said they found several locations at the business where guns were stored. Two of them had been reported stolen.
It's unclear why one of the stolen Mercedes ended up in Minnesota at all, because the majority of the stolen cars are going to Illinois, and from there, they are being shipped to various countries in Africa.
Mercedes dealers told Fox 9 this scheme is not uncommon. Those running the operation will send in straw buyers who legally purchase the cars, drive off, but never pay the loans. Or, they use a stolen identity. They're quickly shipped overseas, sold, and the criminals pocket tens or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars for each and every vehicle. The two men involved with the stolen car in Plymouth have not been charged, but the car has been returned to its owner, a dealership in Plano.
The issue of sending luxury cars overseas illegally has been going on for years. To keep things straight, Mercedes dealers aren't even allowed to sell a car, even for all cash, if they know the vehicle is going overseas.