Truck driver from Allen Park accused of setting fires during travels across the country

Federal case could be heard in California

Man worked for one of the biggest trucking companies in the nation.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The feds say a truck driver from Allen Park who drove all across the country set fires along the way, causing millions of dollars of damage in an attempt for revenge.

The revenge is due to a beef with the Swift Trucking Company, one of the nation’s largest, and its investigators assisted in his prosecution, sending him to federal prison for a couple of years.

The feds now say that’s why he deliberately set fire to a couple dozen of their tractor-trailers. Long haul trucker Viorel Pricop in 2017 was convicted of interstate transportation of stolen property and filing a false IRS return.

About a year after he got out of prison, Swift tractor trailers started burning across the south, usually at night and often with the truck driver asleep inside the living compartment.

There were 25 fires in New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama. Investigators discovered someone shoved paper and rags soaked in flammable liquid between the rear tires and setting them on fire.

The ATF started using high-tech cell phone tracking to figure out who was doing it. ATF court documents said, “Through historical cellular data analysis and ping warrants, learned that the phone was present in the general area of 24 of 25 fires.”

They found Pricop worked out of Taylor-based trucking company Blue Stars. He drove the same rig all the time, parking his personal vehicle in its yard, and the feds said the Town and Country vehicle belonged to Pricop, who still stores it at the location.

The ATF started watching him and needed more evidence, so on Mar. 31, 2022, ATF agents saw Pricop parking the subject vehicle at the Pilot Travel Center In Cordes Lake, Arizona, after they completed the installation of a tracking device.

Later they stopped and questioned Pricop, who denied any involvement in setting fires on Swift vehicles but admitted he had seen a fire on Swift vehicles in the last few days.

Upon confiscating all of Pricop’s electronics, they said five videos of Swift trailers burning were recovered from two cell phones. The feds say they also seized a lot of other physical evidence they believe links him to the crime when they raided his Allen Park home last week.

He was in federal court Wednesday for a hearing to determine whether to send him to California, where the federal case is supposed to be heard.

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.