Crime spree suspects captured in Albuquerque

Martin Rivera, 21
Martin Rivera, 21
Courtesy New Mexico State Police

Updated April 12 at 10 p.m.

A search for a wanted Taos District Court probationer and a female accomplice suspected in a series of violent crimes in Taos County, including a stabbing Thursday evening (April 6) in the Smith's parking lot, an armed robbery Monday (April 10) near Walmart and a Tuesday (April 11) carjacking in Ranchos de Taos, has finally come to an end.

Martin Rivera, 21, and Joanne Montoya, 16, both suspected in the string of crimes that rattled Taos County this week, were apprehended without incident by members of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department at an apartment in Albuquerque at 9:20 p.m. Wednesday (April 12).

A press release recieved after print deadline from Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe reported the capture. For this reason, please note that the April 6 edition of The Taos News will not reflect these developments.

Hogrefe said his office provided Bernalillo County law enforcement with information they obtained Wednesday afternoon.

"We are glad this manhunt is over and no one else was hurt at the hands of Martin Rivera," the press release reads.

An initial search conducted by members of the New Mexico State Police, Taos County Sheriff's Office and Río Arriba County Sheriff's Office had focused on the Valerde area between Taos and Espanola, where the suspects allegedly crashed a stolen black Ford pickup Tuesday afternoon (April 11).

Velarde residents reported watching through their windows throughout the night on Tuesday, some armed with weapons, as officers with flashlights swept the fields and arroyos around their homes.

Lt. Edwardo Martinez, commander of the New Mexico State Police, Taos district, said that law enforcement followed up on all leads and looked into Rivera's criminal past for clues as to what the pair might do next.

Criminal history

Rivera was charged in 2015 in Taos District Court with aggravated burglary, a second-degree felony, and larceny, a felony for which the degree varies depending on the dollar amount stolen, but he was never convicted.

Rivera was incarcerated for nine months and six days in the Taos County Adult Detention Center before being granted a conditional discharge Jan. 26 of last year, according to district court records.

After Rivera failed to complete court-mandated drug testing, bench warrants were issued for his arrest Dec. 21.

On the run

Rivera resurfaced early this month - but not in court.

The first in his series of alleged crimes began around 7 p.m. Thursday (April 6), when Rivera allegedly attempted to carjack at least four individuals in the Smith's parking lot in Taos.

Rivera allegedly approached a man who was loading groceries into his car, produced a knife and demanded he relinquish his vehicle, according to court documents. The man resisted and reportedly used a shopping cart to defend himself. Rivera allegedly stabbed the man in the abdomen.

He then proceeded to the Allsup's gas station nearby, where he attempted to rob the clerk who works in the small, glass-paneled storefront at the station, according to police reports.

Failing that, Rivera then allegedly approached a husband and wife who were filling up at a gas pump. "Get out of the vehicle or I'll hurt you," he allegedly said to the man, who did not comply. Rivera moved on.

The suspect would attempt to steal vehicles from other individuals nearby before leaving the area, according to police.

On Monday (April 10), Rivera then allegedly robbed a young individual at gunpoint along Camino de la Merced near Walmart.

The victim was walking southwest behind a trailer park across from Walmart when an older model Ford pickup - dark blue in color - pulled up behind them, called the individual back to the vehicle, "produced a handgun" and demanded his personal belongings, including a backpack they were carrying. The victim complied, and the suspect fled westbound toward Taos Eco Park, a female with red-colored hair visible in the vehicle, whom authorities now believe to be Montoya, according to a report from Detective Barry Holfelder of the Taos Police Department.

The final known incident occurred Tuesday morning (April 11) in the Ranchos de Taos post office parking lot, where Rivera allegedly used a revolver to successfully steal a pickup from another victim, according to state police.

After a description of the stolen vehicle was disseminated via Taos Central Dispatch, a New Mexico State Police officer identified the pickup heading southbound on State Road 68 at a high rate of speed.

The responding officer engaged in a brief pursuit along the winding canyon road, but the chase was called off due to the high level of "danger" posed to the officer and other traffic driving along the roadway, according to Martinez.

The suspect allegedly crashed the stolen vehicle along County Road 57, near mile marker 12, close to Garcia's Fruit Stand, shortly after 9 a.m. Rivera.

The resolution of the manhunt that ensued was a result of collaboration among multiple law enforcement agencies.

Taos County Sheriff's Deputy Marvin Armijo has charged Rivera with multiple felonies, though reports have not indicated what charges Montoya, who is considered a juvenile, will face.