Car Audio Installers’ Legal Challenge

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car trap

An article in 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.

car trap
Credit: FBI Bulletin

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:

Source: Wired, FBI

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  1. This Guy knew what was going on. Come on don’t take a rocket scientist to figure out its not for a legal use but why did they lock the guy up, he earned a lot of trust he could have put a lot more bad guys away just by pointing the finger to jobs he had done and or jobs being asked to do.
    What are you gonna do with a compartment like this store your ladder? come to think of it his attorney wasn’t very good this would have been a good defence. I thought the guy was a contractor and he’s using it for his equipment. Its a valid use for a compartment thats hidden.
    His lawyer wasn’t very smart and the guy didn’t get paid much, to get a better lawyer he would have had to have more money meaning he would have been paid to keep his mouth shut. and thats a tip its not legal or for legal use. A contract could have kept him out of the limelight on this. Make the buyer sign an affidavit its for a legit use and he’d take all responsibility if there was a problem.

    Don’t drop the soap and say hi to bubba!
    I’d fight the charges I can’t see why this guy would be liable for someone else’s crime?
    As I look at this its a big tool box on a contractor’s truck.
    If this guy broke the law so has Ford and GM and any other auto maker with trunks on the backs of cars! you have a relayed push button ex…. 3’d can’t be seen glove boxes. Armrest with hidden catch. I think this guys lawyer was as bright as a burnt out LED.

  2. Disturbing story for sure. I think I recall I might have built something like that for some consumers in the early 80s…

    BUT EQUALLY DISTURBING to me is the artist rendering of the shop. Take a hard look at that picture. I note with some irony the lines on the floor. At one time the shop owner wanted to demonstrate to staff and/or consumers a sense of orginization and purpose. Over time that idea has been dimmed…

    I am not sure that such a view is the kind of experience that inspires a consumer to trust and spend money in a store? Now take a look at your own install bays…

    Ray Windsor
    German Maestro

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