Notorious train robber locked up for second time

The ringleader of a two-decades long cargo theft network in New Jersey, US, is behind bars again after being sentenced to eight years in prison.

Edward Mongon, 41, of North Bergen, is the ring leader of the notorious freight train robbery gang known as the "Conrail Boyz", which had been operating on and off for more than two decades. He had previously been convicted as ring leader in 2004 and spent four years in prison.

The Conrail Boyz, described by the state Division of Criminal Justice as an "extensive, well-coordinated criminal cartel", would study train schedules and review staff practices, security and access points on the CSX and Norfolk Southern rail lines so as to target shipping containers. They would use night-vision goggles and two-way radios to coordinate the thefts.

The gang stole millions of dollars worth of valuable merchandise, from high-end clothing and watches to electronics and liquor, after using bolt cutters to open the containers, sometimes while the trains were still moving. They then distributed the goods for sale to local vendors.

The new prison sentence comes after authorities tracked the gang and the distribution of goods for nearly four months before arresting Mongon and nine others in December 2014. His charges included: leader of a cargo theft network - of which he pleaded guilt to - burglary, cargo theft, theft and fencing. He has been sentenced to eight years in prison, including four years without parole eligibility.

Mongon's defence attorney Arthur J Abrams had sought for a more lenient sentence but Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Karyn Darish noted Mongon's lengthy criminal history with multiple convictions stretching back to the 1990s, and asked for a sentence of 10 years in prison.

Commenting on the charges before sentencing, Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez said: "Mr Mongon, there's no doubt: You're a thief. You've been doing it your whole life. If nobody's ever told you, Mr Mongon, let me tell you: you're not good at it."

Mongon was previously convicted in 2004 on the similar charge of running the cargo theft network since 1992, in which time it had stolen more than $5m worth of merchandise from trains. Twenty-four people were convicted as gang members and Mongon was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was released on parole in 2008.

As a result of Mongon's conviction in 2004, authorities had believed the Conrail Boyz had disbanded but the network had restarted under the leadership of Mongon.

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