Categorized | Analysis, Manila, Philippines, Tech, World

Mission Possible: Stolen American chopper recovered in Mindanao, Philippines

Posted on 03 May 2011 by mikeinmanila

11 vehicles are on FBI NCIC;  US national registry of stolen vehicles, out of 25 Bikes, SUVs, and sports cars, seized.

US Law enforcement checking a list from the Federal Bureau Investigation NCIC that showed 11 cars and bikes were reported stolen in the USA

BOC seek’s LTO to explain how they were registered.

News reports also say ‘illegal possession of firearms’ charges filed by National Bureau of Investigation.

While the ‘owner’ of the cars says injustice committed by law enforcers, produced registration papers and claimed he was ‘the victim’ in the case and is seeking damages from the government agencies who took his vehicles.

All linked to a Northern Mindanao car & bike dealer, reports that 25 cars and bikes were recovered in a major transpacific anti-grand theft auto investigation.

All started by one mans relentless search for his stolen Houston Motorcycle.

One mans search for his unique Martin Bro's custom ride leads to major bike gang GTA bust in Mindanao. PHOTO Law Enforcement handout

The story reads like a plot for Die Hard Six, for Skip Woods, the writer of Die Hard 5, GI Joe The Rise of Cobra, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

It’s often said the best stories are true to life. For the plot,  which would also fit on Fox’s ‘The Good Guys’, it starts from the simple recovery of a stolen vehicle —  a motorcycle,  a Martin Brothers original. Key figures:  a ‘major writer’  based in Texas who works in  Hollywood.

He loves his bike, a custom Martin Brothers bike. He loved long drives and would head out from wide open spaces in California to flatlands and expanse of open space of the Southwest to Texas. Reality paints a better picture than film here… he and his bike he loved – a man free to roam.

The bike and him were inseparable, then, his bike was stolen in Houston Texas.The writer, Skip Woods, like any other victim went to Police, who traced the bike theft to a gang that ships expensive American-made motorcycles like Harleys and his Martin Brothers custom to Asia via Mexico and Los Angeles.

One mans search for his unique Martin Bro's custom ride leads to major bike gang GTA bust in Mindanao. PHOTO: Law Enforcement handout

Not content to go out and buy a new one with insurance money, he hired private investigators, Orion Support Inc., who traced the bike and upon that, the custom bike was seen in Asia in the Philippines.

Tuesday, led by local Philippine National Police Provincial Director  Buboy Mijares, Agent Wency Galindez of NBI Cagayan De Oro, along with US Law enforcement – at least one FBI agent and OSI private invetigators – the team searching for the rare bike found much more than Skip’s bike.

It’s new owner, who perhaps was unaware of it’s original owner’s pain, displayed it proudly riding it around the hills and valleys of Mindanao – in the City of Cagayan de Oro. It drew attention; eventually leading to the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigaiton, and with FBI agents in tow,  to check VIN or vechile registraition numbers, making a call on 2 warehouses.

Transpacific Investigation leads to Mindanao’s city by the river of gold:

Woods, wanted his bike back badly.  Upon verifying it was his, he then took the long process of recovering his stolen property 7000 miles away in the Philippines. He requested police help. He contacted the Houston Police GTA unit, to coordinate with the US Embassy in Manila.  His request was forwarded, but the reply was somewhat expected: there has never been a successful recovery of high value American bike once it reaches Asia, most end up in China, Japan, or Taiwan.

Mindanao, while a bustling region in the southern Philippines, is home to terror threats and risks. So much so, Delta force, the US Special Forces, rotate there to help the Philippines keep tabs on terror gangs who have ties to Al Qaeda. It is not everywhere in Mindanao (which is roughly the size of the  NetherlandsAustriaPortugalCzech Republic,HungaryTaiwan and Ireland).  But to give you a perspective of how far and wide the track is, his bike could have been driven to parts of it that are violent. Many are progressive and developed. But, CDO, or Cagayan De Oro, is very different from the farming towns or trouble spots, it’s a major development hub. It is far from the battlegrounds and troubles of other parts of the second largest Philippine Island.

Orion Services coordinated with Houston PD, the CDO Police, the National Bureau of Investigation and also the US Embassy.

US Embassy clerks tought recovery of bike impossible

If at first the embassy, who does want to touch these kind of cases, the local American Citizen Services section, like most overworked federal government clerk-filed offices, are more often concerned with visa issues and  paperwork that get into the life of overseas diplomats and create problems for wine and cheese nights and golf tea times.

I know many work hard there, but most just enjoy living a life they would never have back in the USA. To them, the idea of recovering a stolen bike from Texas in Mindanao would be impossible.

Though they seemed a little intrigued, but noting that stolen bikes getting shipped overseas from Mexico, in particular US custom-made  ones or Harley Davidsons, are rarely recovered. They are highly prized in Asia and often power toys owned by the rich and powerful, warlords, or political leaders who ride them off show off their success.

Anyone can ride a Chinese, Indian, or Japanese bike, but a custom US bike in some places is a statement stronger than any super-car. Getting the bike identified alone, much more recovered, especially in a place like Mindanao, seemed unlikely.

FBI, ATF, and DHS-ICE  take the challenge

The local FBI agent in charge in Manila, who is the US Embassy Legal Attache is a rider himself, knew what a bike means to some men and took up the challenge. On Tuesday, May 3rd, after coordinating with the Philippine National Police officers and the National Bureau of Investigation found not only the writer’s bike, but also over a dozen other bikes, several cars, including a pair of SUVs, a bullet-proof chevy tahoe and dozens of US made rifles and guns.

The local FBI and US Customs Office are in Manila’s US Embassy, where the regional US Federal law enforcement units headquartered for South East Asia. Here, they hunt top Al Qaeda figures, drug lords, WMD, help kidnapped Americans and fight trans-national crimes. And now, with the help of OSI, the PNP and NBI, they’ve recovered a stolen custom Martin brothers Harley.

A simple recovery of a stolen bike, blossomed into the major operation ongoing in Cagayan De Oro City in the Southern Philippines. Where now, from that city to Bukidnon along highways, police checkpoints are out in force checking if there are more hot rides from Houston or elsewhere in the U.S.A.



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14 Responses to “Mission Possible: Stolen American chopper recovered in Mindanao, Philippines”

  1. It should be the greatest news for that writer, his bike will be his life, and FBI gave his life back.

  2. Janice K. says:

    Great story but the information is “incomplete.” It would have been great if you include when, where and who is involve. dont you think?

  3. Janice K. says:

    Some articles about this issue says, they are looking for the suspect. Look in facebook he’s still making comments and logging in and out!!!!

  4. Jim Littlefield says:

    My name is Jim. I am a former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret who served with 1st Special Forces Group. I am also a close friend a business partner with Skip Woods.
    Together we own and operate the consulting business Wetwork Tactical which specializes in providing consulting in firearms, tactics, and security within the military, law enforcement, security, and motion picture industry.
    I would like to correct some mistakes in your story. First of all the Houston Police Department deserve no credit in this except for identifying the suspect.
    After receiving no help from the Houston Police Department after numerous requests it was I who located the stolen motorcycle in the Philippines.
    I then contacted a close friend and business associate has close ties in the Philippines who hired SC, (name withheld for security reason) – at Orion Support Inc, and assisted the Orion Group in tracking down and recovering the bike. He has requested that his name and indentity be withheld for security reasons.
    Again the only credit the Houston Police Department and United States F.B.I. should get is that they were present during the raid and assisted in identifying other stolen vehicles at the raid site.
    The credit should first and foremost go to Orion Support Inc, Orion Support Group, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula, Philippine National Police Provincial Director Buboy Mijares, Agent Wency Galindez of NBI Cagayan De Oro, the rest of the N.B.I., and the P.N.P. Again none of this could have been accomplished without Orion Support Inc.

    I would appreciate a correction done in regards to this story to give proper credit where due and take away credit where undeserved.

    Jim Littlefield

  5. Alex Genoroso says:

    …nice to know also WHO assisted the culprit in facilitating the export of these hot items and HOW they passed the U.S. Border (port?) in the first place. I mean, investigation should be both ways, don’t you think?….

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