NEWARK — The ringleader of a luxury car theft ring and five accomplices broke into their victims' homes to steal more than 30 vehicles worth millions of dollars, according to State Police.

Authorities say they dismantled the $3 million theft ring spanning throughout New Jersey and New York on Thursday when they arrested Carlos Sanchez, 23, of Newark, at a motel in Avenel, followed by his co-conspirators. Sanchez is charged with being a leader of an auto theft trafficking network, conspiracy to commit theft, and theft by unlawful taking.

According to police, the members of the theft ring broke into peoples' homes while the victims were there. Once the thieves had the vehicles, they took them to get new vehicle identification numbers and titles, then sold them online. The ring has been held responsible for vehicle thefts in Monmouth, Mercer, Ocean, Union, Essex, Somerset, Hunterdon, Burlington, Bergen, and Middlesex counties, and New York State.

The seventh-month investigation began in May and, at the time, focused on a series of car thefts in Millstone and Upper Freehold. In July, detectives arrested Geovanni Hernandez, 24, of Newark, for four vehicles stolen from those townships including a BMW M8 and three Range Rovers.

Hernandez was charged with conspiracy to commit theft, burglary, theft, and receiving stolen property. His arrest helped detectives to identify the rest of the operation and led them to Sanchez, according to police.

On the same day as Sanchez's arrest last week, detectives searched his home and the home of Solomon Mickens, 23, also of Newark. The search turned up key fobs, electronics "linked to the operation," and a handgun, according to police.

Mickens was arrested Thursday as well and charged with conspiracy to commit theft and theft by unlawful taking.

James Lanier, 24, Sadiq Griggs, 23, and Destiny Montalvo, 21, all of Newark, have also been charged in connection to the auto theft ring.

All six suspects are being held at Monmouth County jail. The case is being handled by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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