5 accused of operating carjacking ring in Detroit, Southfield, Dearborn arrested

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Five people suspected of operating a carjacking ring in Detroit, Southfield and Dearborn have been arrested, police Chief James White said Friday.

Detroit Police Chief James White, center, announces Friday the arrest of five people believed to be behind at least seven carjackings in Detroit, Southfield and Dearborn since Sept. 23, 2021. He was joined by Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad, left, Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren, right, Detroit Police Lt. Clive Stewart and Assistant Special FBI Agent in Charge Devin Kowalski.

White said the suspects were arrested Tuesday in connection with at least seven carjackings that "terrorized citizens" in the three cities. Police continue to investigate the operation White said is believed to have been in existence since Sept. 23.

The chief discussed the arrests Friday alongside officials with the Detroit, Southfield and Dearborn police departments and the FBI.

The suspects are between the ages of 16 and 25 and appear to have primarily targeted Jeep Grand Cherokees, Dodge Chargers and Dodge Challengers, he said.

Detectives have not determined a specific motive for stealing the cars because they either stored them or abandoned them at various locations, the chief said.

Because the investigation is ongoing, officials are not releasing more information at this point, White said.

He said investigators were able to identify similarities in the crimes and put together descriptions of suspects and their modus operandi.

Police said three of the seven carjackings happened in Detroit.

The first happened at about 10:35 p.m. on Oct. 23 in the 15400 block of Greenfield near Fenkell. Two armed men approached a 50-year-old man and demanded his black 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, according to authorities. The victim complied and fled, but the men left the victim's vehicle at the scene and fled in a blue older model Ford Fusion.

The next incident happened around midnight Oct. 24 in the 16000 block of West Seven Mile near Greenfield, officials said. Again, it involved two armed males. The victim was a 41-year-old man. Investigators said the men fled in the man's red 2021 Dodge Challenger. Police recovered the vehicle later in the day in the area of Fenkell and Hubbell.

The last carjacking happened around 1:30 a.m. Nov. 4 in the 20400 block of West McNichols near Evergreen. Five people carjacked a 25-year-old woman, according to investigators. They fled in the woman's gray Chrysler 200, which was last seen traveling west on West McNichols.

"We also believe the suspects may be involved in a shooting in Southfield and that part of the investigation remains active," White said.

Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren said the shooting happened at about 10:10 p.m. Monday at a gas station in the 25000 block of Southfield Road near Lincoln.

A 23-year-old man was putting air into the tire of his Jeep Grand Cherokee when he was carjacked. The three involved in the crime arrived in a stolen silver Chrysler 200, he said. Two suspects exited the Chrysler and approached the victim. 

"They produced a handgun and the victim tried to run away, but he was ultimately shot three times by one of the suspects," Barren said. 

The thieves took the keys for the Jeep out of the victim's pocket and fled in the vehicle.

Southfield police officers and medics gave aid to the victim, who was taken to a hospital.

"Fortunately, his injuries are non-life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery," Barren said.

He also said when one of the suspects was arrested Tuesday, police found the keys to a stolen Jeep in his pocket. The Jeep was recovered early Friday morning in Detroit, he added.

Dearborn police Chief Ronald Haddad said investigators believe that the same suspects carjacked a woman on Yinger Avenue in his city an hour before the shooting in Southfield.

"They grabbed a woman by her hair and knocked her to the ground," he said.

White thanked the FBI for its help in the investigation and credited the arrests to the partnership between their three departments and the federal agency.

 "If you commit crimes in our cities, you're going to get the full attention of this law enforcement partnership," White said. 

Assistant Special FBI Agent in Charge Devin Kowalski added the partnership between the agencies is not unique to this case.

"It's something that's woven into the fabric of the law enforcement family in Detroit and southeast Michigan," he said. "Along with the hard-working women and men of these agencies, these partnerships that give us results everyday. And it enabled us to disrupt a very violent criminal enterprise responsible for multiple car jackings."

Added Barren: "No longer are the days when law enforcement agencies work in silos. We communicate and partner on a daily basis."

Haddad said the departments talk on a daily basis about crimes that impact the region.

"This is no different," he said. "Let these arrests be proof positive."

White said his department has seen about a 1% increase in reported carjackings so far this year compared with the same period in 2020.

"We've seen a slight uptick and we've put a plan in place to address it," White said. "Certainly, one carjacking is one too many and we would like it to be less than it was last year."

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez