3 El Cajon Residents Linked To Car-Theft Ring Arrested

More Than A Dozen Arrested In 'Operation Hot Wheels'

Four San Diego-area suspects in a car-theft ring that shipped luxury vehicles to Iraq were in custody Wednesday.

In addition to the local arrests, nine people were arrested in the Detroit area this week and another suspect was at large, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency's nearly two-year-old investigation was 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.

Hermiz, Hanna and Daly were each arrested on suspicion of transporting stolen property. In addition, Hermiz faces conspiracy charges, according to ICE. Yousef was arrested on suspicion of mail fraud, agents said.

According to an indictment unsealed Wednesday in Detroit, the ring rented vehicles from national chains in Michigan and Ohio, drove them into Canada, then filed police reports that claimed the vehicles were carjacked or stolen in the Detroit area.

"They would then take these vehicles, drive them into Canada, drive across the border… [and] sell vehicles... eventually to Iraq," said Ian Quinn, the assistant special agent in charge of ICE-Homeland Security.

Five of vehicles allegedly carjacked or stolen were found by the Canada Border Services Agency in shipping containers headed to Iraq, agents said.

10News spoke with the wife of one of the El Cajon residents who were arrested.

"I am shocked," she said. "I can't tell you anything."

News that her husband was accused in an international car theft scheme came as a surprise.

"He's a good person," she said. "I've been married to him [for] 17 years. I don't ever have [a] problem."

That woman's son told 10News he was woken up Wednesday morning when eight federal agents stormed an El Cajon apartment complex and arrested his father, Ramzi Yousef. When he saw a list of others who had been arrested, he pointed out four more family members, including his uncle, who is accused of being the ring leader.

That man, Adnan Hana of Sterling Heights, Mich., owned Discount Auto Sales in Detroit. Federal agents said Hana and 13 others used the business to sell stolen high-end rental cars from the United States.

"Making significant money… when they sold the vehicles, virtually all of that money went to profit," said Quinn.

Others arrested in the Detroit area were Jason Hana, 27; Heather Hana, 29; Nazar Quiryaqous, 46; Wasem Aziz, 26; Peter Barno, 28; Youkhanna, 24; Nilton Asmar, 30; and Ghanim Hanna, 59.

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

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