Two men were arrested by Glendale police and the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force for alleged multiple counts of identity theft, police announced Tuesday.
The arrests of 38-year-old Juan Perez of Azusa and 35-year-old Uriel Martinez of El Monte took place at a Rosemead gas station at about 9 a.m. on Aug. 19, Glendale Police Sgt. Christian Hauptmann said.
Their alleged crime spree, which reportedly involved the use of counterfeit bank cards and the theft of diesel fuel, came to light after a Glendale resident contacted police about some fraudulent charges made to the resident’s credit card, Hauptmann said.
That report spurred a joint investigation that revealed credit card skimming devices at two gas stations in Glendale, the sergeant said. In the ensuing investigation detectives discovered that a suspected “fuel bladder” truck driver was using the stolen bank information to steal the fuel.
Bladder trucks, Hauptmann explained, are modified vehicles that can store hundreds of gallons of fraudulently purchased fuel. The fuel is then transferred to another vehicle or storage container and then resold at significant discounts.
One of the credit cards that Perez allegedly used belonged to an FBI agent whose government credit card was skimmed at the Glendale gas stations.
Then on Aug. 19, agents for the task force and Glendale police detectives began to surveil Perez, who was driving a box truck and making numerous stops at area gas stations, Hauptmann said. Perez was allegedly observed using multiple credit cards to purchase diesel fuel which was then pumped into the cargo area of the box truck.
During this operation Perez then met up with Martinez, who followed Perez throughout his gas station stops acting as an a lookout, officials said.
Perez and Martinez were eventually stopped at the Rosemead station, where detectives allegedly found about 30 counterfeit bank access cards in Perez’ possession. Martinez was allegedly found to be holding 75 bank cards. A search warrant was then served on Perez’s residence where an addition 100 fraudulent cards, a credit card/reader writer and a laptop computer were found and seized by detectives, authorities said.
Perez and Martinez were then arrested and booked on various identity theft charges. Both men were given citations and released on $1 bail each, Hauptmann said.
The reason their bail was so low and they were given citations were the restrictions placed on law enforcement by the emergency bail schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hauptmann told City News Service.
Both men are scheduled to head to court on New Years Eve, he said, adding that the date could be changed.
The Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force is made up of Glendale police, L.A. County sheriff’s personnel, FBI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspectors, Homeland Security agents, U.S. Postal inspectors, the IRS and California’s Department of Health Care Services.
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