Shipped from an undisclosed port in England to Newark, New Jersey, the Mini was registered as a 1988 model in order to circumvent the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safety and emissions regulations. The DHS says that the VIN was swapped by the person selling the Mini in order to make it look older than it actually was and that the buyers had no idea that it was illegal. However, they will not be reimbursed for the seized car, at least not by the government.
The DHS somewhat barbarically invited members of the media to Price’s Auto Recyclers in Plumsted Township, New Jersey, to watch as an excavator destroyed the Mini into shreds. The feds explained that they staged a press conference and filmed the whole process in order to issue a warning about illegally importing a car.
“We do not take such action lightly,” summed up Leon Hayward, the assistant director of trade & cargo security at the U. S. Customs and Border Protection’s New York Field Office.
The Mini was uncovered during Operation Atlantic, a partnership between the U.S. and the United Kingdom that aims to prevent illegal imports. About 100 cars have been prevented from entering the U.S. since the beginning of the operation, and officials say that the Mini and the Land Rover Defender are the most common models by a long shot.
Photos courtesy of Alex Remnick | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com