VERNON PARISH, La. (KPLC/Gray News) — A Texas couple have been arrested in Louisiana following the theft of diesel fuel from a convenience store, authorities said.
Usleidy Guerra Carmona, 43, and Omar Menendez Mendez, 37, were each arrested on one count of identity theft, one count of misuse of monetary instruments and one count of criminal conspiracy to commit misuse of monetary instruments. KPLC reports that their bail was set at $75,000.
Sheriff Sam Craft said it was the second incident in recent months involving fraudulent fuel purchases by out-of-state individuals.
A Vernon Parish store employee contacted the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office and told them that two people had made suspicious diesel purchases, Craft said.
The man paid at the pump with a credit card for two $100 gas purchases and then attempted additional transactions which were declined, he said. The woman walked into the store and allegedly made separate purchases using a credit card.
The clerk told detectives the couple left the store heading east, Craft said. Store employees provided a detailed vehicle description and license plate information.
Detectives followed and within minutes identified the suspect vehicle as it entered. Deputies initiated a stop and the vehicle reduced speed and eventually came to a stop, according to Craft.
During the traffic stop, it was discovered that Carmona had cut three Walmart gift cards into several pieces and then stuffed them in front of his pants to hide them from officers, the sheriff said.
“It is believed that the attempted destruction and concealment of the gift cards was the reason for Mendez’s delay in complying with the traffic stop,” Craft said.
The truck was towed to the sheriff’s office, where a search warrant was executed, the sheriff said. Detectives said they found a compact disc allegedly containing software for a “card reader/card scanner”, software used in conjunction with a card reader to encode gift cards with credit card information.
The truck bed had a large fuel tank as well as several plastic canisters used for transporting fuel, Craft said.
Carmona and Mendez were identified as Cuban nationals and investigators were sent to act as language interpreters.
Carmona has previously been arrested in Texas for participating in organized crime and misidentifying herself to law enforcement, Craft said.
Mendez, whose visa expired in 2022, was also arrested in Texas for falsely identifying himself to law enforcement, the sheriff said. Immigration placed a detainee on Mendez, he said.
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