Erica Maria Martinez and Britney Nicole Baker of Fort Lauderdale, Florida were arrested on Tuesday after a high-speed car chase that started at a local bank, according to local news reports. Marinez, 29, and Baker, 29, were booked into Broward County Jail on nine count each of felony forgery. It remains to be seen whether Martinez, who was driving the car during the chase, will also be charged in connection to the car accident that ensued. It is not clear whether either woman has qualified for bail bond or hired a private criminal defense attorney
According to local press reports, last Tuesday’s events began when Martinez and Baker allegedly made rounds at six Lincoln banks from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in an attept to cash nine checks. The defendants were allegedly attemtping to cash the fraudulent checks, which tolalled over $19,000 in purported value, althouhg it is not clear whether they succeeded in doing so. It is also not clear where they acquired the allegedly fraudulent checks. The banks apparantly informed Fort Lauderdale authorities of the problem and reported that Martinez was driving an SUV. Then, at 1:30, a bank teller at a bank located at Union Bank and Trust (at Pioneers Boulevard and South 70th Street) called police to report that the perpatrators were driving a silver Chevrolet Equinox.
Authorities reportedly caught up with Martinez and Baker near the intersection of Vine and 70th Street. Martinez allegedly refused to pull over, instead leading authorities on a high-speed chase. Both the pursued and the pursuers apparantly reached speeds of over 70 mph during the chase, so authorities stopped near Holdredge and 70th for safety reasons and called for backup. Another set of officers took over to continue the chase, but Martinez allegedly stopped herself when she ran a red light at Havelock Avenue and North 84th Steet and struck a black Nissan SUV and a pole. The Equinox then flipped and came to a halt.
Martinez, Baker, and a third occupant of the Equinox were taken to an area hospital. The driver of the Nissan, as well as a third driver who was involved in the accident, were also taken to the hospital for minor injuries. It is not clear what kind of injuries the defendants may have suffered, but they were released from the hospital on Tuesday and placed into police custody. It is also unclear who the third defendant is and how they escaped being charged, but police have implied that charges against him or her are pending. The identity of this third person has not been released.
News sources indicate that Martinez and Baker are suspected members of the Felony Lane Gang. The gang, which reportedly operates on a national level, allegedly specializes in collecting checks and photo IDs by breaking into cars, then using them to get cash at banks. When attempting to cash the checks, members of the gang allegedly stick to the drive-in lane farthest from the teller and don disguises, including wigs and sunglasses.