Newark – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan announced today that six individuals were charged in in a multi-county $500,000 high-end car theft ring.

On Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, Dante Jones, 18, Kevon Wright, 18, Omari Shomari, 18, Ismeal Merrill, 25, Muhammad Merrill, 21, and Layquan Davis, 18, all of Newark, were charged with second degree conspiracy to receive stolen property, according to Assistant Prosecutor Joseph A. Giordano, who is handling the case.

Today the Honorable Martin G. Cronin, Judge of the Superior Court, detained Muhammad Merrill until trial. Layquan Davis and Kevon Wright were released under home confinement. Tomorrow, Judge Cronin will determine whether to detain Jones. Shomari and Ismeal Merrill remain at large.

It is alleged that the crew stole the following:

  • A 2017 Bentley Continental from Monmouth Beach, on July 11
  • A 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio, from Moorestown, on July 16
  • A 2015 Land Rover Evoque, from Warren, on July 17
  • A 2018 Audi Q5, from Hillsdale, on July 19
  • A 2017 Mercedes Benz C300, from Holmdel, on July 24
  • A 2016 Land Rover Range Rover, from Holmdel, on July 24
  • A 2018 Audi from Holmdel on July 24
  • A 2018 Ford F150 from Holmdel, on July 24

All the cars were stolen with a key fob left in the car and the car parked in the driveway. All the cars were recovered in Newark.

“As we celebrate National Night Out Against Crime today, everyone should be mindful that they can decrease the rate of auto burglaries and theft in this State by locking their vehicles and taking their car keys or fobs with them,’’ said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino.

Four of the defendants  —  Jones, Wright, Muhammad Merrill, and Davis — were arrested during the execution of search warrants.

Ismeal Merrill and Shomari have been entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the electronic clearinghouse of crime data used by law enforcement nationwide to locate and apprehend fugitives.

The investigation was initiated by the New Jersey State Police Auto Theft Task Force with assistance from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Prosecutions Unit.

In addition to the receiving charges, Davis was charged with possession of a control dangerous substance (200 grams of marijuana and one deck of heroin).

The Merrills were charged with credit card thefts for allegedly using stolen credit cards belonging to the registered owner of the Alfa Romeo at a WalMart in Kearny.

These are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.