Crime rings have operated in plain sight in Albuquerque for years, often targeting big box retailers. Previously, the crimes were treated as petty shoplifting offenses but now New Mexico’s top prosecutor is changing his approach, considering it organized crime.
“There’s an organized criminal activity element even in our backyard that we need to attack,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.
KOB 4 Investigates has previously highlighted the problem of serial shoplifters who rip of big box retail stores and sell the stolen goods, often online.
Attorney General Balderas said his office has launched a brand new unit to tackle retail organized crime.
“It’s a big deal. Albuquerque is one of the most dangerous, violent crime-ridden cities in the nation,” said Balderas. “This high level criminal activity was falling through the cracks… I’m convinced that criminals were working together in a very sophisticated way, but we were identifying them as petty shoplifting criminals and quite frankly, these are individuals that are draining our economy, they’re putting safety at risk for New Mexico families and consumers.”
Balderas points to one recent case which led to the indictment of three men: Aaron Sheridan for conspiracy and racketeering along with his pawn shop employees Paul Skersick and Fatu Ulale Jr.
Investigators describe the operation as a crime ring – funneling thousands of dollars in stolen goods through a now defunct pawn shop on Central Ave. It was an operation exposed by an undercover detective, dating back to 2018.
On several occasions, power tools provided to the undercover officer by Walmart and The Home Dept were sold to the pawn shop even though the merchandise still had the security tags on. Sheridan and his two employees have a court date set for later this year… KOB4 News