Six Arrested in El Paso Lone Star Card Fraud Investigation

Six Arrested in El Paso Lone Star Card Fraud Investigation

Six suspects were arrested earlier this week by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in connection with a Lone Star Card fraud investigation in the El Paso area. Lone Star Cards, administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), are Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards utilized for accessing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash help payments. This investigation marks the arrest of 30 individuals for Lone Star Card fraud since 2016.

The multi-agency investigation, involving the DPS Criminal Investigations Division, Texas HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Trafficking Unit, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso, targeted individuals and businesses suspected of fraud and abuse related to Lone Star Cards.

According to HSI El Paso Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric McLoughlin, the investigation uncovered instances where a store owner allegedly permitted SNAP recipients to exchange redemptions for cash at half the value.

The operation resulted in the arrest of six suspects for theft of services, with one individual administratively processed by HHS OIG for suspected trafficking of EBT/SNAP benefits.

The arrested individuals, along with their theft amounts, are as follows:

  1. Adriana Franco, 31, of El Paso – Theft Amount: $5,807.00
  2. Alejandra Tagle, 31, of El Paso – Theft Amount: $3,595.44
  3. Arely E. Marin, 30, of El Paso – Theft Amount: $4,821.45
  4. Lorenza Franco, 52, of El Paso – Theft Amount: $5,084.65
  5. Mayra C. Menchaca, 32, of El Paso – Theft Amount: $5,643.54
  6. Omar Alberto Gallegos, 42, of El Paso – Theft Amount: $44,475.93

Additionally, Jessica Cardenas, 37, of El Paso underwent administrative processing for a theft amount of $2,180.21, but was not booked.

All cases have been forwarded to the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.