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The Archuleta County Detention Center experienced a population boom last week with the arrest of five Albuquerque residents.
The five were booked into jail last week following an incident in which two stolen cars were recovered and several of the suspects falsely identified themselves to law enforcement.
According to Det. Scott Maxwell of the Pagosa Springs Police Department, the group was in Pagosa Springs to visit an inmate at the Archuleta County Detention Center on March 20, when the incident took place.
The events began to unfold at about 7 p.m. that day, when the proprietor of a local restaurant, located in east Pagosa Springs, reported that two individuals, a male and female, left the restaurant without paying their $54 dinner bill, Maxwell said.
The proprietor reported the description of the pair and their vehicle, as well as their direction of travel, to Archuleta County Combined Dispatch.
It was later discovered that the pair attempted to pay for the meal with multiple credit cards that were declined before stating that they were going to leave to obtain cash, Maxwell reported.
The vehicle was located almost immediately by Archuleta County Sheriff’s Deputy Monica Medina, said Maxwell, in the parking lot of the downtown plaza at 5th and San Juan streets.
A dispatcher then advised that the vehicle, a 1996 silver Saturn, was reported stolen in New Mexico, Maxwell said.
Following the alert by dispatch that the car was stolen, a detention officer at the jail informed officers working on the case that a woman by the name of Roxanna Castillo — the vehicle’s registered owner — was at the jail visiting an inmate.
PSPD Sgt. T.J. Fitzwater responded to the ACDC to speak with the woman, who reported that a friend had borrowed the vehicle from her and failed to return it, prompting her to report it as stolen. When the friend returned it, the woman said she forgot to inform law enforcement — a story that turned out to be false, as did the woman’s identity.
A second female at the jail for the visit then stated that her ID was in a vehicle parked at the plaza across the street and that she needed it to visit the inmate at the jail.
That female then returned to the downtown parking lot with Fitzwater, telling him that she had never ridden in the Saturn, but only in another car — a 2001 gold Oldsmobile.
However, the woman later reportedly retrieved her ID from the Saturn.
A check on the Oldsmobile determined that it, too, had been reported stolen, Maxwell reported.
Upon Fitzwater’s arrival at the 5th and San Juan location with the woman, a male and two females exited the Subway store, quickly changed directions and started walking away, Maxwell said. The trio was stopped and detained, and the male was identified as the man who skipped on his bill at the restaurant earlier that evening.
The male denied knowing that either car was stolen, stating he had been picked up by the women.
The investigation then confirmed that both vehicles were stolen, with law enforcement contacting the real owners of both vehicles, Maxwell said. Keys to one of the vehicles had been hidden and were later found by Fitzwater.
Both vehicles were stolen from the Albuquerque area, Maxwell said, in separate incidents — the Oldsmobile stolen while the owner was warming it up, and the Saturn stolen from the residence of a friend of the owner.
In the process of the investigation, several of the suspects gave false names and dates of birth to the officers, Maxwell said.
With several false identities, two stolen cars and a skipped dinner bill, five individuals were then arrested and booked into the ACDC.
Dennis Chavez, 26, of Albuquerque, was arrested for theft of services.
Debra Ramirez, 44, of Bernalillo, N.M., was arrested for aggravated motor vehicle theft and tampering with evidence (for the hidden keys).
Jennifer Ramirez, 26, of Rio Rancho, N.M., was arrested for aggravated motor vehicle theft and criminal impersonation (for pretending to be Castillo, the car owner).
Amanda Apodaca, 30, of Placitas, N.M., was arrested for aggravated motor vehicle theft.
Candida Ramirez, 22, of Rio Rancho, was arrested for aggravated motor vehicle theft and tampering with evidence.
A search of the vehicles revealed drugs, drug paraphernalia and various stolen checks, Maxwell added.