New York City seizes 46 ice cream trucks in 'Operation Meltdown'

New York City is seizing 46 ice cream trucks that the city says evaded nearly $4.5 million in parking fines since 2009 as part of a shell company scheme. 

The crackdown, called "Operation Meltdown," is on a small group of individuals operating companies that didn't pay parking violations for nearly a decade, according to an announcement by the mayor's office Wednesday. 

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The group allegedly accrued 22,000 summonses for violations between 2009 and 2017, according to the city. Many of the violations caused dangerous situations throughout busy Midtown blocks, according to a copy of the city's complaint filed last week. 

The lawsuit targets "the worst offenders," those with more than $10,000 in judgments or unpaid fines, according to the city release.

“No New Yorker is above the law — especially those who try to ignore public safety laws and create dangerous situations for pedestrians, bikers and drivers,” New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioPoll: Biden holds five-point lead over Warren among New York Democrats New York City won't penalize students for skipping school for climate rally Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE (D) said in the release. 

The city alleges the truck operators evaded fines and would proceed to reregister ice cream trucks with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles under various shell corporations. 

The trucks allegedly ran red lights, parked near fire hydrants and blocked pedestrian walkways, according to the city's complaint filed last week. 

“We all know from common experience that ice cream trucks are magnets for children. In order to protect this particularly vulnerable category of pedestrians, our traffic laws must be strictly enforced," Zachary W. Carter, the city's corporation counsel, said in the release. 

The Department of Finance was unsuccessful in collecting the debt through typical notices and bank subpoenas, the city said. 

“For years, these owners have ignored public safety laws and have driven dangerously in one of the busiest areas of the City. This seizure marks the end of the road for these scofflaw ice cream vendors," de Blasio said. 

The city began seizing 46 ice cream trucks Wednesday.