By Karl Wehmhoener | firstname.lastname@example.org
CLOVIS -- A former public notary who was part of a criminal enterprise that fraudulently obtained hundreds of New Mexico drivers licenses for illegal foreign nationals living outside the State pleaded guilty on Monday to 47 felony charges.
Veronica Diaz, AKA Veronica Lara, 38, of Portales, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of forgery, 32 counts of conspiracy to alteration or forgery of a drivers license, and three counts of false evidence of title or registration. Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Drew Tatum accepted the plea and sentenced her to 70 years in the Department of Corrections, but then suspended the entire sentence and placed her on 5 years of supervised probation. Diaz, along with others, agreed to testify against the ring leaders of this scheme who remain on the run and are considered dangerous.
Diaz was employed by an illegal foreign national from Mexico and his family-Luis Raul Collazo-Medrano, his wife, Olivia Campos, and daughter, Viridiana Campos-who are accused of running a $30,000 per month illegal drivers license operation that also included human traffickers and mail collectors. Warrants have been issued for arrests of Collazo-Medrano and Olivia Campos, and the two are believed to be living together.
"For a period of time Roosevelt County was a one-stop shop for foreign nationals wanting to fraudulently obtain an identity and a New Mexico driver's license. Fortunately, we were able to discover the criminal activity and put a stop to it by prosecuting several of the players in the case, but not before hundreds of New Mexico driver's licenses were illegally issued. The long term effects of an illegal operation such as this are difficult to measure because the State will never be able to truly identify who illegally obtained a New Mexico driver's license or what they plan on doing with the fraudulent drivers license," said Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler. "Now our focus is on locating the ring leader of this operation and bringing him back to New Mexico to face his charges. As a result of convicting and turning each co-defendant, the State is going to be able to make a very strong case against Collazo-Medrano."
In addition, the following defendants have also pleaded guilty in this case for their roles in the elaborate forgery scheme:
- Veronica Rivera (AKA Veronica Vicuna), 25, of Portales: Pleaded guilty to 23 counts of conspiracy to commit altered, forged or fictitious license, and was sentenced to 42 years in prison, all suspended in favor of supervised probation, and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Rivera has agreed to testify against Collazo-Medraon and his wife.
- Maria Rivas, 42, of Portales and Midland, Texas: Pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to commit altered, forged or fictitious license, and three counts of false evidence title and registration. She was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison, all suspended in favor of probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Rivas has agreed to testify against Collazo-Medrano and his wife.
- Brenda Vicuna, 21, of Portales: Pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit altered, forged or fictitious license, and was sentenced to three years of probation. Rivas has agreed to testify against Collazo-Medraon and his wife.
- Luis Tirado, 34, of Portales: Pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit altered, forged or fictitious license, and was sentenced to 18 month of probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
Although investigators identified 54 cases for prosecution purposes, the ring is accused of fraudulently obtaining hundreds of New Mexico drivers licenses for illegal foreign nationals living outside the State.
The Motor Vehicle Division has cancelled all of those licenses after the ring was busted in June 2012. Investigators from the Ninth Judicial District and the Tax Fraud Investigation Division within TRD worked together to uncover the fraud ring.
Image Courtesy MGN Online
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