A Kennewick man is accused of creating a new identity to avoid arrest on an outstanding warrant.
Police discovered Ernesto R. Armentilla Soto used a false name to buy an SUV and get insurance and a driver's license after an anonymous tip came in about drug trafficking, court documents said.
Now, Armentilla Soto, 36, has another warrant after failing to appear last week in Benton County Superior Court on a new charge of first-degree criminal impersonation.
A tipster contacted Kennewick Detective John Dorame on Feb. 22 and claimed that a person named Luis Alberto Armentilla, and his wife, were engaged in illegal activity involving drugs. The person gave an address and vehicle description for Armentilla, and said the man had been on a recent trip and returned with a large amount of methamphetamine, court documents said.
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Dorame was unable to locate anything on a man with that name in a law-enforcement computer system.
Meanwhile, detectives Ron Salter and Shirrell Veitenheimer went by the apartment identified in the tip and found a 2008 Jeep Cherokee with a temporary permit on the rear window.
The vehicle was registered to Luis Alberto M. Mayorga, which led investigators to find a driver's license for a Luis Alberto Mayorga-Meza with a birthplace of Sinaloa, Mexico.
Dorame then asked detectives with the Tri-Cities Violent Crimes Task Force if they knew of anyone in the area who was from Sinaloa and suspected to be involved in drug trafficking a few years back, documents said.
Armentilla Soto's name came up, and the picture provided to Dorame allegedly matched the information from the state Department of Licensing on Mayorga-Meza. A criminal history check reportedly showed that Armentilla Soto was arrested in 2008 for driving under the influence and has an outstanding warrant.
Investigators got a search warrant for Armentilla Soto's home and vehicle.
When contacted, Armentilla Soto initially used the name Luis Alberto, then admitted his true identity and said he had been using a false name to avoid capture, court documents said. He said he bought the SUV with a loan from a Tri-City bank and applied to be the registered owner, all with the false identity, documents said.
Armentilla Soto denied any involvement in drug trafficking, though detectives reported finding in the Jeep the statue of a man who has been described as a folk saint to those in the trade.
Inside the home, investigators seized two Washington identification cards with the names Mayorga-Meza and Armentilla Soto, both with the same picture, court documents said. They also found a Social Security card, a permanent residence card and a loan application with the false name, documents said.
Armentilla Soto has not been charged in connection to the drug allegations, according to online court records.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; email@example.com; Twitter:@KristinMKraemer