Authorities file first charges in alleged Dollar General theft ring case

PRESIDIO — More information is starting to trickle out about an alleged theft ring involving both Dollar General locations in Presidio. In court filings on Monday, authorities formally charged several people involved in the alleged thefts.

Previously, The Big Bend Sentinel reported that at least nine people had been arrested over the alleged thefts. That included four store employees (Giselle Andrade, Romona Lujan, Zenaida Olivas) and five other people (Clarissa Acosta, Marcela Garcia de Galindo, Rogelio Lujan Jr., Julissa Perez Serrano and Jose Macario Torres), according to Presidio police.

Monday’s filings also give a tenth name: Ada Acosta Caballero, a 35-year-old who will face misdemeanor theft charges, according to court filings. But public records from Chihuahua State, which list an “Ada Clarissa Acosta Caballero” in Ojinaga, suggest she may be the same defendant initially named by Presidio police.

The alleged thefts happened over the summer, and Presidio police arrested most or all of the defendants in August. Online postings from the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office from around that time also confirm those arrests, though those posts just say the defendants were arrested on theft charges and do not indicate that the defendants were allegedly part of a larger scheme.

But with authorities at the time still investigating the alleged crimes, it wasn’t until September when Presidio police confirmed more details on the incident. In a news release that month, police said they’d first started looking into the matter in July, after receiving a tip from a district manager of the local Dollar General stores.

In a call to police, that employee expressed concerns that workers were “taking part [in] and facilitating the theft of merchandise,” police stated in their news release. After an “in-depth investigation,” police “confirmed what was already reported” and started making arrests.

So far, only five people — Ada Acosta Caballero, Marcela Garcia de Galindo, Rogelio Lujan Jr., Julissa Perez Serrano and Jose Macario Torres — have been charged in the case. But in an interview on Tuesday, Rod Ponton, the county attorney for Presidio County and the prosecuting attorney in this case, said more charges were likely coming.

“There’s still investigations into potential other charges against the other persons,” Ponton said.

Of the defendants who have now been charged, Acosta Caballero and Perez Serrano are each facing two class B misdemeanor theft charges involving alleged thefts on July 14. Lujan Jr. and Macario Torres each face two class A misdemeanor theft charges from the same day, while Garcia de Galindo is facing two class A theft misdemeanor charges from August 26.

The defendants charged with Class B misdemeanors are accused of stealing more than $100 but less than $750 worth of merchandise from Dollar General, while those facing Class A charges are accused of stealing more than $750 but less than $2,500 worth of merchandise.

Ponton, citing the active criminal cases and investigations, declined to offer more information on these specific charges. But in general, he said, when defendants face two of the same charges from the same day, it’s “because multiple events happened” — meaning authorities believe each of these defendants committed multiple thefts during separate incidents.

Still, there are plenty of open questions about the case, including whether any alleged members of the theft ring will face more serious charges, like charges of conspiracy (if there were specific, organized agreements to commit the thefts) or felony charges in general. In its initial news release from last month, the Presidio Police Department said that some of the defendants would likely face felonies.

But Ponton, the county attorney, said he believed he was now handling all of the charges. And Ponton only prosecutes misdemeanors — not felonies.

The local district attorney’s office, which does prosecute felonies, could not be immediately reached for comment. Presidio police did not respond to requests for comment by press time.