Arrest In Bizarre Las Cruces Gang Initiation

Las Cruces – Earlier this morning at approximately 2:30 a.m. an individual, age 23, reported to Sheriff's Deputies, that while at an area behind the Love's Truck Stop, commonly referred to as the "illegal race grounds," was approached by two individuals who jumped him from behind, wrestling him to the ground, taking his 2000 Ford Mustang.

The vehicle was later discovered abandoned in the desert area near the Butterfield Shooting Range, on the West Mesa.

An individual matching the description as one of the persons possibly involved in the taking of the vehicle was later found walking on Interstate 10, near Mile Marker 124, by Border Patrol Agents.

Dona Ana County Sheriff's Investigators arrested and charged MICHAEL A. HERNANDEZ, age 26, of the 1100 block of Chaparro Street, with one second degree felony count of Strong Armed Robbery and one third degree felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery.

HERNANDEZ later admitted to Sheriff's Deputies that he was in the company of three other individuals who he refused to name and that the taking of the vehicle was part of a "gang initiation" to which he belonged.

HERNANDEZ, after the vehicle got stuck in the sand, was abandoned by his accomplices and left to fend for himself in the desert area.

Through their investigation, Sheriff's Investigators learned that the "Victim", though he was in possession of a vehicle registered to his mother, had been reported stolen from a storage yard on July 6, by the owners of the storage yard, who had taken possession of the vehicle approximately one year ago, from the "Victim."

The "Victim" could only say that he came into possession of the vehicle approximately a month ago through "friends" and had prior knowledge that the vehicle had been reported stolen by the owners of the storage yard.
Sheriff's Investigators plan to file Criminal Charges against the "Victim" later on, when the case is presented to the District Attorneys Office.
The "Victim" is cooperating fully with Sheriff's Investigators.