Multiple convictions in international truck theft conspiracy from forensic evidence provided by Perceptics' license plate readers and driver cameras - Advanced multi-tiered imaging systems installed to enhance international border security and interdiction efforts recently paid off in the battle against illegal activity. Federal prosecutors won a conviction against Houston resident Yuri David Melendez, the leader of an international organization that smuggled millions of dollars of stolen trucks and heavy equipment out of the United States and into Mexico.
Evidence that helped convict 43-year-old Melendez included images captured by License Plate Reader (http://www.perceptics.com/products/lpr) (LPR) and Driver Imaging System surveillance cameras placed at a security checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas. Both imaging systems were produced by Perceptics (http://www.perceptics.com/) of Knoxville, Tenn., and supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration for interdiction missions.
"Mission critical imaging systems play a significant role in securing international borders and key security checkpoints," says Perceptics' Security & Traffic Management president, Orlando Carrasco. "We're proud that the accuracy of these systems played a key role in building the forensic case against this theft ring."
Perceptics' LPR (http://www.perceptics.com/products/lpr) is designed to uniquely capture the state or country of origin of the vehicle's license plate and performs at a 95 percent accuracy level. The system captures and processes the vehicle plate, scene and driver images, and then transmits these images and license plate information to a secure database to check for any suspect activity associated with that vehicle.
Investigating agents linked Melendez and his conspirators to the thefts by viewing surveillance photographs taken by a Perceptics LPR http://www.perceptics.com/products/lpr) and Driver Imaging System (DIS) cameras at the Falfurrias highway checkpoint, according to the Justice Department.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice news release, Melendez beginning in 2001 received requests from his contacts in Central America for stolen tractor/trailers. After locating the equipment in the Houston area, Melendez recruited co-conspirators to assist with the theft and transport the stolen equipment to Central American customers. Melendez often accompanied the drivers in his own private vehicle, serving as a guide and look-out for law enforcement.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner of Houston in December sentenced Melendez to nine years in federal prison for his role in the thefts and an unrelated narcotics charge.
Perceptics LPRs, Driver Surveillance Systems and Under Vehicle Inspection Systems (http://www.perceptics.com/products/uvis) are deployed in more than 1,000 vehicle lanes worldwide, including the United States, Canada, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. In 2009, Perceptics (http://www.perceptics.com/) released a Color Arabic LPR for the Middle East which is able to interpret a plate's color to determine a vehicle's origin.