BELEN — It wasn’t a very lucky day on St. Patrick’s Day when a duo allegedly tried to pass more than $10,000 in counterfeit money.
At about 6:30 p.m., on Sunday, March 17, the Belen police were called out to the Walmart Supercenter regarding a possible fraud. Officers learned a man and woman had purchased merchandise and Visa gift cards using counterfeit $100 bills the day before.
The man, later identified as Raymond Ward, 34, of Moriarty, and the woman was identified as 38-year-old LaShawn Briggs, of Albuquerque.
A Walmart asset protection employees was able to give officers a description and license plate number of the suspect’s vehicle. On Monday, officers learned counterfeit $100 bills were also used to purchase merchandise at the Love’s Travel Center.
Minutes after learning this information, officers patrolling the local Super 8 Motel found the suspect’s vehicle in the parking lot. Officers were able to make contact with Briggs and Ward inside a motel room.
Both individuals were detained while officers obtained a search warrant for the motel room, and eventually found items used in the production of counterfeit currency. Officers also located more counterfeit currency, drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Officers gain additional information that these individuals may have defrauded the local Beall’s store. Officers made contact with Beall’s management and they recovered four additional counterfeit $100 bills and three counterfeit $50 bills. Officers also retrieved seven $100 bills from the local U.S. Bank in the daily deposit belonging to the local Dollar General.
The total amount of counterfeit currency seized was about $10,790.
“We believe additional local or area businesses may have been defrauded by these two individuals, so if you recognize doing business with either of these individuals, please contact us immediately,” said Belen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez. “The police department is working with the U.S. Secret Service on this investigation.”
Briggs and Ward were booked into the Valencia County Detention Center in Los Lunas on multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy, drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Belen Police Department is reminding local businesses to please be on the lookout for counterfeit currency, and if you believe you are a victim in this fraud investigation, contact Officer Jason Skopek or Lt. Joe Portio.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.