Men accused of fraud are ‘career criminals,’ police say

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah -- Two criminals from out of state, already on probation for scamming credit card numbers, tried the same crime in Cottonwood Heights over the weekend.

They were arrested at the Shell Station on Fort Union Blvd.

Cottonwood Heights Police said an officer noticed two men, parked next to one of the pumps, acting suspiciously around 4 a.m. Sunday.

“So the car was actually parked so that they couldn’t of even pumped gas anyway if it needed to,” said Sgt. Ryan Shosted.

As officers approached they caught the men red-handed installing a credit card scammer.

“The two individuals were messing with the machine trying to get it open, picking the locks, using tools to get into it,” said Shosted.

Police attempted to make the arrest. One of the suspects cooperated, the other did not.

“He began to pull away and try to escape the officer so the officer was able to take him to the ground and put him into handcuffs,” said Shosted.

The suspects, Ariel Alejandro Alpizar Gonzalez and Alayna Epinosa-Lopez, were booked into Salt Lake County Jail. That’s when police discovered they were dealing with career criminals.

“They are not U.S. citizens, and in fact, they were on probation out of Florida for similar crimes,” said Shosted.

However, the suspects were only in jail for five hours before being released due to overcrowding. The jail said that should be enough time for ICE to get involved. ICE said these situations are always a case-by-case basis. Cottonwood Heights is upset.

“I think anytime someone is a flight risk we have to do everything we can to keep them in jail especially if they are going to leave the state or the area,” said Shosted. “If there is no accountability what’s to stop them from doing it again?”