Three suspects have been arrested in Madisonville in what police are calling a multi-county counterfeit check ring. They say one of the suspects is a gang-member who will be deported to Mexico.
“Looks like we were able to bust up a major operation,” said Madisonville Police Chief C.W. “Chuck” May.
“Madisonville Police got a major tip Monday afternoon from bank tellers who said three people attempted to cash counterfeit checks at their bank, the Wells Fargo at the 200 block of East Main Street.”
“One was a little over a thousand, one was about $900 and the other was a little more than $800,”
Madisonville Police Chief Chuck May says 39-year old Jessica Rodriguez saw police coming as she was inside, trying to pass off the counterfeits and bolted towards a getaway car. Investigators say thirty-four-year-old James Wood, and 30-year-old Mario Alanis, were in that car, trying to cash their own fakes simultaneously through the bank's drive through. And that's when a police chase began but investigators say they were able to catch all three suspects quickly.
Police say the trio have been allegedly producing and cashing counterfeit checks all over the state for several years -- but the demise of their counterfeit ring, police believe, is just the tip of the ice-burg.
"They utilize small, rural towns with small banks figuring they don't know what they're doing and try to pass this stuff,” said Chief May.
But Chief May says that impression is just plain wrong.
"Our banks aren't rural Texas hillbilly banks. They're major banks and they've got procedures and ways of knowing things,” May added.
Investigators say they found 100 other counterfeit checks and some fake identification that the suspects were using. The FBI has been called into this investigation.
Due to multiple jurisdictions being involved, MPD contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to request assistance. Due to the timely assistance from the FBI and ICE, further charges could be filed on all three subjects in Madison and other counties.
“Thanks to the hard work by MPD and the assistance of local, state, and federal agencies, MPD successfully uncovered and solved a large scale counterfeit check operation that hundreds of people and businesses all across the State of Texas have fallen victim too.” Lieutenant Jonathan Zitzmann