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Crime

3 people arrested in Edmonton vehicle cloning investigation

WATCH ABOVE: It's a troubling discovery for anyone who has purchased a used vehicle recently. Kent Morrison speaks to Edmonton police about how a vehicle cloning operation works.

Three people have been arrested and charged in Edmonton after a police investigation into a vehicle cloning operation.

Edmonton police said search warrants were executed on Sept. 27 at a home in the Hamptons area and a business in the area of 121A Street and 121 Avenue. The search of the business revealed an active vehicle cloning operation and a stolen 2008 BMW X6 and a stolen cloned 2008 Mercedes ML55 was recovered, police said.

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Two stolen 2014 Range Rovers – one of which was cloned – two stolen and cloned 2016 Dodge Ram 1500s and a stolen 2015 Jeep Cherokee were seized that police said was linked to the operation.

Vehicle cloning is using a vehicle identification number (VIN) from a legally registered vehicle to hide the identity of a stolen or salvaged vehicle.

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The stolen VINs are used to create ownership documents to register or sell the stolen vehicles, which then become an identical clone, with no clear signs it was stolen.

READ MORE: Edmonton police charge 96 people with 457 auto-theft related charges in 2018

Police said the search of the home resulted in the seizure of 269 grams of cocaine worth about $27,000 as a marijuana, cash and evidence connected to the cloning operation.

Lindy Belloc, 42, and Idrissa Diarra, 38, were both charged with possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and uttering forged documents. Diarra was also charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and additional counts of possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.

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Alemar Villegas, 32, was charged with uttering a forged document and possession of a controlled substance.

“The Edmonton Police Service would like to thank our partners in the provincial auto theft working group, including other major police agencies across Alberta, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Alberta Transportation and Service Alberta for their joint efforts to reduce auto theft in Alberta, as well their support and cooperation with this investigation,” Det. Mark Kassian said.