Crime Stoppers has released its list of the most wanted suspects for auto theft in York Region. The announcement was made during a news conference attended by York Regional Police, Equite Association, and Crime Stoppers of York Region. The event highlighted the initiatives planned for the year and provided statistics for 2023.
According to Det. Sgt. Pat Smyth from York Regional Police’s car theft unit, last year saw a staggering increase in the number of stolen cars in the region. Approximately 5,000 cars were reported stolen, compared to an average of 800 cars per year in 2018. Smyth emphasized the alarming rise in auto theft, stating that it reflects the current climate.
The list of the most wanted suspects for auto theft investigations includes Mansor Abdul, who was identified as the “mastermind” of a stolen vehicle trafficking ring. An investigation called Project Majestic in 2023 revealed that stolen vehicles were being shipped overseas, including to the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. Abdul, with a last known address in Brossard, Que., fled to Kabul, Afghanistan, to evade arrest and has not returned to Canada since.
Another suspect on the list is Abu Ayi, who was allegedly the leader of a group targeting Honda and Toyota SUVs for overnight driveway thefts. Project Victory in 2020 led to the recovery of 70 stolen vehicles worth $4.5 million. The investigation also uncovered that 32 stolen vehicles were shipped to either Ghana or Nigeria. Ayi, with a last known address in Toronto, fled to Ghana with a fraudulent passport while awaiting trial.
Ala Malak Mekdad was identified as the alleged leader of one of the crews involved in overnight driveway thefts in the Greater Toronto Area. Project Touchdown in 2022 resulted in the arrest of 51 individuals and the recovery of over 215 stolen vehicles valued at approximately $17 million. The stolen vehicles were shipped to various continents, such as Africa and the Middle East, where investigators suspect they were stolen using the technique known as “relay theft.”
The remaining two individuals on the most wanted list are Modibo Bamba and Amiel Tambwe Katende. Both 21-year-olds were allegedly part of a theft crew that targeted high-end vehicles in the GTA. They are believed to have fled to Montreal and have yet to be found.
Bryan Gast, vice president of investigative services at Equite Association, highlighted that Canada remains a “source nation” for stolen vehicles. Organized crime groups export stolen vehicles through the Port of Montreal or reinvent them for domestic resale across the country. Gast emphasized that the profit margins are high, and the risk of prosecution is perceived as low by criminals.
The fight against auto theft continues, and law enforcement agencies are working diligently to apprehend these wanted individuals and bring them to justice..