Couple arrested for stealing gas following ‘suspicious purchases,’ authorities say
VERNON PARISH, La. (KPLC/Gray News) - A couple from Texas 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 monetary instrument abuse and one count of criminal conspiracy to commit monetary instrument abuse. KPLC reports that their bond was set at $75,000.
Sheriff Sam Craft said it is the second incident in recent months involving fraudulent fuel purchases by out-of-state persons.
A Vernon Parish store employee contacted the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office and told them that two people had made suspicious purchases of diesel, Craft said.
The man paid at the pump using a credit card for two $100 purchases of gas, then attempted additional transactions that were denied, he said. The woman entered the store and allegedly made separate purchases using a credit card.
The clerk told detectives the pair left the store heading east, Craft said. Store employees provided a detailed description of the vehicle and license plate information.
Detectives followed and within minutes identified the suspect vehicle as it entered. Deputies initiated a stop and the vehicle reduced its speed and eventually came to a stop, according to Craft.
During the traffic stop, Carmona was found to have cut three Walmart gift cards into several pieces, then stuffed them in the front of her pants to hide them from officers, the sheriff said.
“It’s believed that the attempted destruction and concealment of the gift cards was the reason for the delay in Mendez 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 bed of the truck had a large fuel tank as well as several plastic jugs used for fuel transport, Craft said.
Both Carmona and Mendez were identified as Cuban Nationals, and investigators were sent to act as language interpreters.
Carmona has previous arrests in Texas for engaging in organized crime as well as misidentifying herself to law enforcement, Craft said.
Mendez, whose visa expired in 2022, also has arrests in Texas for misidentifying himself to law enforcement, the sheriff said. Immigration has placed a detainer on Mendez, he said.
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