Authorities bust up alleged auto theft ring

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Orlando police officers have arrested nine people in an alleged racketeering operation, dubbed "Gang Theft Auto."

Investigators said the suspects stole hundreds of cars over several years at sites in 14 Florida counties. The case was described by OPD as the “largest gang ... case in our history” brought under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization Act. 

During an afternoon news conference, photographs of the nine men were shown on a board.  They are accused of being part of a complex crime ring in which they stole everything from electronics, to guns and cars; notably from car dealerships across several different counties. Over a span of two years 163 vehicles were stolen. 18 were in Orange County, while 20 were in Polk County. 81 firearms were also stolen in the crime spree.  

"Their crimes resulted in over $4.2 million in theft and damages from dealerships alone, and over $345,000 in retail and cell phone thefts, and 81 stolen firearms," said OPD Chief Orlando Rolon.

Thirty-six law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Marshals Service helped with the arrests. Several cases are still under investigation and more arrests may come, authorities said.