Allen Park man accused of lighting 25 Swift semi-trucks on fire across country

A Michigan man is accused of setting 25 Swift Transportation semi-trucks on fire since 2020.

Viorel Pricop, 64, of Allen Park, allegedly set six fires in California, three fires in Arizona, nine fires in New Mexico, three fires in Texas, and one fire each in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama from June 2020 until September of this year.

These fires were often along I-10 and I-40 in these states, and all occurred while the trucks were at rest stops or fueling stations, federal authorities said. These fires were late at night, and were started in or on the trailer, mainly on or near the trailer tires.

Swift hired fire investigation consultants. An investigation of cell phone towers near the fires showed that a specific GPS navigation device installed in a commercial truck was near the fires. According to authorities, Pricop owns that truck. His cell phone was also in the area of 24 of the 25 fires, according to an affidavit.

An undated photo of Viorel Pricop

Authorities searched Pricop's home and vehicles on Sept. 16. They found evidence linking him to the arsons. Numerous logbooks, bills of lading, shipping receipts, and other record-keeping documents were obtained in both paper and digital form from Pricop’s vehicles and residence. Many of these documents were found to contain location information, such as cargo pickup and delivery dates, which coincided with locations where fires in this series occurred, according to the affidavit.

Record checks for Pricop showed that he was convicted in 2018 of transportation of stolen goods. Swift cooperated in the investigation and prosecution of that case, federal authorities said.

Pricop was sentenced to two years in prison, with credit for time served. His term of supervised release ended in June 2019, about one year before the arsons in this case began, the affidavit states.

In this case, Pricop is charged with one count of arson of property.