Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security have publicly crushed an Austin Mini Cooper worth $20,000 as a warning to illegal importers.
The Mini in question was built in 2000, and had not been tested under US emissions and crash requirements. It was seized from the owners, who were awaiting delivery and, according to the Associated Press, thought they had followed procedures. However, an investigation by US Customs and Border Protection revealed that the car’s VIN had been changed to make it look like it was from 1988. Currently, vehicles that are 25 years or older are exempt from federal emissions and crashworthiness laws and are eligible for import (though state to state registrations laws differ).
In this particular case, a 2000 Mini Cooper is largely identical to the same Mk IV model dating back to 1976. In fact, as Jalopnik reports, it is likely safer than the 1988 model because it is equipped with an airbag.
Nevertheless, in a statement to the press, Leon Hayward, the assistant director of trade and cargo security at the New York US Customs and Border Protection field office, said “since the vehicle’s VIN was intentionally manipulated, destruction of the vehicle is our only recourse.”
The crackdown is part of a larger collaboration between US and UK authorities called “Operation Atlantic.” Earlier this year, Homeland Security seized 40 Land Rovers that it deemed had been illegally imported. The Mini was destroyed in a New Jersey junkyard as part of a press conference designed to deter auto importers that violate the laws.
Photo Credit: US CBP