UPDATE: Multiple arrests made in mail theft case, more than 30 victims identified
EL PASO, Texas (CBS4) —
After a yearlong investigation into stolen mail at community mailboxes, authorities have arrested 17 people.
Police said the group worked together to steal documents from the mail and other sources to use them to defraud people and banks.
So far, 37 victims have been identified, and police believe there are more victims.
Police said the thefts happened between December 2016 and December 2017.
The group has been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, including forgery and fraudulent use or possession of more than 50 items of identifying information.
Police said more arrests are possible.
John Cummings said he had mail stolen within the last few weeks. He said the thieves stole a debit card from his mailbox and drained his bank accounts.
Cummings described how the suspect was caught.
"I'm very happy with the police. I mean they were actually the ones that caught him when he was trying to use the card at Ross. Charged up about $400. When he was asked for my identification, of course he couldn't supply it," Cummings said.
Cummings said he is now more careful. He bought a locking mailbox, installed security cameras, signed up for the mail service that tells you what mail you should expect that day.
The following group has been arrested in the mail theft case:
Allen Battle, 32.
Kenneth Burk Bell, 28.
Darryl Clinton Brown, 25.
Delilah Amanda Delgado, 38.
Michael George Gomez, 32.
June Granado, 29.
Michelle Hudspeth, 47.
Johnathan Wayne James, 35.
Iliana Molina Jones, 33.
Brent Harrison Kennedy, 35.
Thomas Kevin Lawry, 35.
Jason Curtis Smith, 34.
Pierre A. Tanner, 31.
Samantha Vasquez, 23.
Cody Ray York, 24.
Phillip Biagas, 48.
Joseph Howe, 34.
Sixteen members of the group are El Paso residents. Vasquez is from Socorro, Texas, police said.