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Fayetteville, N.C. — Three men are accused of running an illegal scrap-metal operation that cut up cars in Cumberland County.

Deputies busted the chop shop Thursday afternoon at 1621 Deep Creek Road in Fayetteville after the sheriff's office got a tip about the operation. When deputies arrived at the vacant mobile home, they said, they found an adjacent lot filled with high-end vehicle parts. 

Property crimes detectives and state Division of Motor Vehicles investigators did an inventory of the parts, which included doors, engines, wheels and bumpers.

“These would be for instance, the air compressor, the battery, some of the other high-dollar things. They can take tires, wheels, rims, if they're on the vehicles,” Lt. Matthew Hurley, with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said.

Many of the parts were wrapped in plastic and were prepared to be shipped overseas.

“It's all about metals,” Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said.

Butler said it appears the demand for valuable metals was driving the operation.

“We're dealing with a lot of stolen vehicles and stolen parts for metals. It's very expensive and the price is high for metals,” Butler added.

Investigators said they did not know how long the operation had been in business, but they said it probably had been up and running for a while.

“Chopping operations can take place anywhere – out in the country in a rural setting or they can take place on a busy street. All you need is space (and) a little bit of mechanical know-how and about an hour to cut up a car,” Hurley said.

So far, investigators have uncovered at least seven stolen vehicles. They include a BMW, a 2008 Toyota Corolla, a 2008 Chevy Trailblazer and a 2007 Murano.

Investigators say they have information from vehicle identification numbers which indicated at least one of the vehicles may have been stolen from a car dealership in Durham and another from a dealership in Sanford.

Samer Fakhir Othman, 30, of 1321 Valley Run in Durham; Darian Lavarre Moore, 27, of 600 Audubon Lake Drive in Durham; and Essic McCauley Williams IV, 24, of 4516 Emerald Forest Drive in Durham were arrested and charged Thursday with two counts each of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and one count each of felony conspiracy.

They were being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center under $4,000 secured bonds. Investigators said more arrests are expected as the probe continues.

This wasn't the first time deputies busted a chop shop in the area. Over last year's Memorial Day weekend, investigators broke up a motorcycle chop shop. The bikes were reportedly stolen during Bike Week in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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