Guatemalans held in license fraud

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two Guatemalan nationals were arrested Friday for allegedly conspiring to illegally obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses after an investigation by the state Taxation and Revenue Department.

Also, a man and a woman named in the State Police report that outlines the investigation into the Guatemalans’ alleged scheme were booked into Metropolitan Detention Center on driver’s license forgery and conspiracy charges.

Fabian Guerra-Pirir, 32, and Hector Martinez-Cruz, 28, told investigators they were driven from New Jersey to New Mexico to obtain the licenses. Officers discovered that both men already had temporary New Mexico driver’s licenses when they were arrested, and one suspect had images on his iPhone of vehicle registration possibly belonging to a Santa Fe man and what appeared to be a “cheat sheet” for the state driving test, according to the police report.

Investigators found Guerra-Pirir and Martinez-Cruz when they were looking for the man suspected of arranging for the licenses, William Ramos, who allegedly accepted between $2,000 and $3,500 to broker the deals, according to the report.

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Officers tried to find Ramos at an apartment registered under his name Friday, but he wasn’t at home. Investigators then searched the area and found a black Ford Explorer that Ramos drove from New Jersey and four men sitting near the vehicle.

The four men immediately fled and two evaded arrest, but Guerra-Pirir and Martinez-Cruz were arrested and questioned. Police later found “numerous” travel bags and new license plates, along with additional documents, in the vehicle.

It’s unclear from online court and jail records whether Ramos has been arrested or charged in the alleged scheme.

Also, Rommel “Danny” Salazar-Duran, 29, and Edith Munoz-Trujillo, 39, were both named in the police report for allegedly having played a role in the driver’s license fraud. Munoz-Trujillo told police that she and Ramos drove down to Albuquerque from New Jersey to help Salazar-Duran and the Guatemalans obtain driver’s licenses, according to the report.

Salazar-Duran told police he met Ramos in a New Jersey bar and the two began hatching a plan to obtain the licenses.

The Guatemalans, Salazar-Duran and Munoz-Trujillo are all being held at Metropolitan Detention Center on $10,000 cash/surety bonds.

The arrests came just a day after three Ecuadorian nationals were arrested for allegedly trying to apply for New Mexico driver’s license. A fourth man was also arrested and charged with accepting $3,000 to arrange the deal.

Those arrests also came after an investigation from the state Taxation and Revenue Department, according to a department news release.

New Mexico and Washington are the only states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain the same driver’s license as a U.S. citizen, and Gov. Susana Martinez has long lobbied for the practice’s repeal.

Legislation that would halt or change the practice of giving regular driver’s license to illegal immigrants is being considered at the current legislative session.
— This article appeared on page A4 of the Albuquerque Journal

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