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Alleged serial rapist takes plea bargain

LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Eddie Medrano was luring vulnerable women off the street with the promise of drugs and alcohol, but those women had no idea they were going to be raped and held captive for several days, prosecutors say. Now Medrano faces up to 18 years behind bars after entering a no contest plea to four charges in state District Court here Monday.

Medrano, 53, had been charged with 21 first-degree felony counts of criminal sexual penetration – in addition to assault, false imprisonment and extortion charges – in three different cases with three different victims for crimes that occurred in 2013 and 2014.

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Eddie Medrano gestures with a thumbs-up after pleading no contest to four counts of criminal sexual penetration for allegedly raping three women from Albuquerque and Santa Fe with homelessness and substance abuse problems after luring them to his trailer in rural San Miguel County. He appeared in state District Court in Las Vegas, N.M.. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Monday, he pleaded no contest to four lesser counts of criminal sexual penetration and will be sentenced by Judge Matthew Sandoval at a later date. Deputy District Attorney Kit Ayala said in court that this was the best deal she could strike for the victims, who she said have been hard to locate due to their issues with homelessness and substance abuse.

Ayala said Medrano and a man named Floyd Sanchez, now deceased, picked up one woman at a homeless shelter in Santa Fe and the other two on Central Avenue in Albuquerque. All of them were taken to a trailer in rural Ilfeld, between Pecos and Las Vegas, and say they were raped and held against their will for several days, with one woman apparently held captive for 16 days.

“The prosecution of this case has been very victim-oriented, so over the last 18 months, the District Attorney’s Office has worked extensively with the health issues and homelessness these victims have gone through,” Ayala said. “The women who are on Central in Albuquerque are sometimes addicted and homeless, and they end up getting victimized in one way, shape or form. They have struggled with addiction and homelessness, and we had to locate them throughout the state.”

In the oldest case, Medrano and Sanchez met a 47-year-old woman at a homeless shelter in Santa Fe and invited her to go to Pecos with them on Oct. 20, 2013. After stopping at Walmart to buy vodka and then driving east on Interstate 25, Ayala said the men made sexual comments to her that made her afraid. The men held her and raped for about three days, Ayala said, and she was finally able to escape Oct. 24 and flag down Rock Ulibarru, since elected a San Miguel County commissioner, as he drove on I-25.

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Eddie Medrano sits with his attorney Tomas Benavidez, right, during his plea hearing in state District Court in Las Vegas, N.M., Monday. He faces up to 18 years in prison for his no contest plea on rape charges. (Eddie Moore/ Journal)

A State Police report says the woman alleged someone with the name “Lloyd” or “Floyd” and another man named Eddie “with a possible last name of Medrano” raped her and threatened her with a chain saw. But charges in this case weren’t filed until two years later, on Sept. 29, 2015, which was also more than a year after Medrano had been arrested for another similar set of offenses. A State Police spokesman told the Journal for a story about the Santa Fe woman’s account in 2013 that investigators weren’t going to pursue charges due to a lack of evidence.

On Aug. 6, 2014, Medrano met another woman on Central Avenue in Albuquerque, offered her alcohol and took her to his Ilfeld trailer, Ayala said Monday. She was also raped and held captive and managed to get away when she told Medrano that she could give him money from her bank in Santa Fe. Ayala said the woman told a bank teller she was being held against her will, and the teller called police.

When officers were serving a warrant for Medrano in that case on Sept. 15, 2014, they found another woman who told them that she was being held captive. According to Ayala, Medrano met this woman on Central Avenue on Aug. 30, 2014, and bought her food and toiletries. Medrano offered her drugs and alcohol and took her to the same Ilfeld trailer, and she was raped and held there until police found her.

Medrano’s attorney, Tomas Benavidez, said in court that Medrano isn’t admitting guilt, but says he would have a hard time getting acquitted. “He maintains his innocence, but he believes that if he would go to trial he would be overwhelmingly found guilty,” Benavidez said.

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