U.S. authorities have carried out raids in the eastern U.S. state of Maryland in an effort to break up an international car theft ring that allegedly shipped stolen luxury cars to West Africa and the Middle East.

Police say they have arrested several people, including Solomon Asare, a native of Ghana, whom authorities describe as a ringleader. Investigators say they have retrieved 72 stolen vehicles worth about $2.5 million.

Authorities say the cars, which included Mercedes, BMW's and Hummers, were stolen from dealerships, homes and carjacked off the streets in the Washington D.C. area, New York and New Jersey. They say the cars were shipped to West Africa and the Middle East and resold for up to twice their retail value.

The Washington Post newspaper reports the car theft ring was discovered in Prince George's County, Maryland about a year ago.