An article in Wired.com serves as a warning to car audio installers, however talented and careful they may be.
A former Top 100 installer on Mobile Electronics Magazine’s annual listing, says the story, is now in prison for installing “traps” or hidden compartments in vehicles.
Occasionally, car audio installers are asked to install such secret in-car compartments, we are told, for use to store valuables. But the traps may also be used to traffic drugs or other illicit items, and so may put installers at legal risk, as it did for Alfred Anaya of Valley Custom Audio Fanatics in San Fernando, CA. He is now serving a 24 year sentence in federal prison.
Anaya was charged with “false compartment activity.”
The traps require considerable skill as they must be undetectable to the eye and difficult to “trigger.” To open or trigger a trip may require several steps involving relays or sensors or even voice control. One might need to press a window button three times, followed by a door lock four times, for example.
The traps themselves can be hollowed into almost any part of the car including seats, gas tanks, trunks, and the dashboard.
According to an FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin in October 2010, there is no federal statute specifically outlawing traps but authorities may pursue installers under a statute stating it is unlawful to sell drug paraphernalia (which includes any equipment of any kind designed to conceal an unlawful substance, under Title 21, U.S. Code, Section 863(a) (1)).
Anaya’s tale is all the more instructive because he may be viewed as a victim of his skill. His traps were so intricate and blended so well with the car’s interior that he attracted the attention of local drug smugglers. It’s also instructive because Anaya apparently tried to stay on the right side of the law. Every installer would do well to read the Wired story here: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/03/alfred-anaya/all/