TRENTON -- An Essex County man admitted running an international car theft ring that stole high-end vehicles in New Jersey and shipped them for black market sale in West Africa, authorities said.
Kyle Champagnie, 30, pleaded guilty to a first-degree charge of financial facilitation of criminal activity in front of Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim in Union County, according to a statement from the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.
Attorney General Christopher Porrino said the Irvington man was "a top member" of the ring, which was the target of a 2014 car theft investigation dubbed "Operation Jacked."
'Operation Jacked' nets 160 stolen cars
Authorities said the ring stole luxury cars -- often at gun- or knifepoint -- with brands including Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar and Aston Martin.
The state crackdown recovered more than 160 cars valued at more than $8 million, authorities said.
Champagnie was one of three accused ringleaders of the operation, which had as many as 30 people working for it, according to police.
Under a plea deal, prosecutors are recommending he serve 16 years in state prison, including eight years of parole ineligibility.
He is scheduled for sentencing on April 21.
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