Zia Park Casino hijack video may not be all it seems

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Posted on: Sep 20, 2022 5:06 am.

Last updated on: September 20, 2022, 5:56 am.

Security video of a New Mexico woman who appears to have been abducted from the Zia Park Casino Hotel racetrack near the Texas border is now being reevaluated by investigators.

Zia Park
Casino security video still of Erica Martinez just before being rammed into a car by Jonathan Zaragoza, foreground. (Hobbs Police Department)

On Thursday, September 8, 2022, police responded to reports of a possible Zia Park kidnapping. On September 9, the Hobbs Police Department released video provided by the casino.

It appeared to show a suspect stalking a woman in the casino parking lot, attacking her and then forcibly bundling her into a silver Chrysler 300. The woman was quickly identified as Hobbs’ 35-year-old Erica Martinez. Her alleged kidnapper was Jonathan Zaragoza.

Police asked for the public’s help, and video surveillance and screenshots from the casino were shared on social media.

Camera never lies

On Saturday, September 10, officers spotted the silver Chrysler in the Carlsbad area, 70 miles southwest of Hobbs. They found Martinez and Zaragoza at a nearby property around 9 p.m. Martinez was unhurt.

Hobbs Police said in a media release on Saturday that Martinez is being questioned and that criminal charges against Zaragoza are awaiting the conclusion of their investigation.

The police are now checking whether the events depicted in the video may have been misinterpreted.

Zaragoza has not been charged with kidnapping, according to court records seen by The Hobbs News sun. He was committed to the Eddy County Detention Center for violating the terms of probation in a 2019 meth trafficking conviction and was released on Wednesday.

He also violated parole terms in 2021 for charging a household member’s battery, disrupting communications and causing property damage to a household member, court filings show.

Meanwhile, Martinez was arrested on an outstanding warrant after failing to appear in court in July 2022 for driving with a suspended license. She has since been released from prison and is scheduled to appear in court again on October 13.

smoking gun?

However, the crux of the case may lie in a discovery made during the casino’s investigation into the alleged kidnapping. A purse allegedly lost by Martinez contained several cards in her name as well as 226 fentanyl pills.

Investigators are now working on the theory that Zaragoza and Martinez fled Hobbs in a panic to avoid investigation and arrest, said Capt. Jesse Rodriguez of the Carlsbad Police Department The news sun.

And what seemed like a horrific kidnapping to observers may actually have been a desperate attempt by one criminal to protect another.

Police say the investigation into the incident is ongoing. The video can be viewed on the Hobbs Police Department Facebook page.

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