Ex-NM Gang Members Help Dismantle Prison Gang, 2 Leaders Of Christian Sect Plead Not Guilty

Sep 11, 2017

Ex-Gang Members Helping Dismantle New Mexico Prison GangThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

According to an FBI document, nearly 114 suspected members and associates of an infamous New Mexico prison gang have been arrested over the past two years with the help of over 30 former members and leaders, who have been secretly working with authorities.

FBI Special Agent Bryan Acee wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit filed Aug. 31 that the group cooperating in the massive federal racketeering investigation into the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico gang includes more than 20 members inside the gang who are considered "confidential human sources."

The Albuquerque Journal reports the gang has been around since the 1980 deadly riot at the state Penitentiary and has about 500 members.

According the affidavit, 80 of those arrested have been charged with federal crimes, a majority of which have pleaded guilty.

2 Leaders Of Religious Sect Plead Not Guilty To Child AbuseThe Associated Press

Two leaders of a New Mexico paramilitary religious sect have pleaded not guilty to charges connected to a child abuse investigation.

Deborah Green and Peter Green entered pleas Monday in Cibola County District Court.

Co-leader Deborah Green and high-ranking leader Peter Green of the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training are being held on $500,000 cash surety bond in connection with child sexual abuse charges stemming from a raid last month on their compound.

The secluded compound is in the high desert of western New Mexico.

Peter Green, also known as Mike Brandon, faces 100 counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child on suspicion of raping a girl from the time she was 7.

The group, founded in California, says the allegations are "totally false."

GOP Wants Investigation Into Keller CampaignABQ Journal, KOB-TV, Associated Press

The New Mexico Republican Party wants an investigation into the mayoral campaign of Democrat Tim Keller over questions of whether he has violated rules on publicly financed campaigns.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Blair Dunn, attorney for the state GOP, sent a letter to Attorney General Hector Balderas, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, City Clerk Natalie Howard and City Attorney Jessica Hernandez seeking an investigation.

The Journal reported one of Keller’s rivals for mayor, Republican Wayne Johnson, also filed a complaint with the city ethics board.

The complaints came after a story by KOB-TV that found Keller’s campaign manager reportedly solicited nearly $30,000 in cash donations

KOB found dozens of individuals contributed thousands of dollars, and the campaign listed them as "in-kind" contributions.

Records show some contributions came from high-profile Democrats like former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.

A letter obtained by the station had Keller's campaign manager and Rio Strategies partner Jessie Lane Hunt asking supporters to "make a check out to Rio Strategies" to support Keller.

Hunt says the money goes to buying water, clipboards and office space.

The city charter defines an in-kind donation as "a good or service other than money."

By receiving public financing, Keller cannot legally raise any more money.

Mom, Boys Found OK; Amber Alert CancelledAssociated Press

Authorities say a woman and her three young sons who were reported missing in New Mexico have been found safe in Southern California.

Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Felicia Maggard said late Sunday detectives are investigating the disappearance of Laria Anderson and the boys, which led to an Amber Alert.

Maggard said in an email that Anderson and the boys aged 6, 8 and 9 were located in the city of Lancaster in Los Angeles County. The Amber Alert was cancelled.

Anderson is believed to have driven from Albuquerque through Arizona and into California, where she has family. Authorities say Anderson has full custody of the boys but made threatening comments during a fight with their father.

F-16s Departing Utah's Hill AFB For Holloman In New MexicoAssociated Press

Hill Air Force Base is saying goodbye to F-16 Fighting Falcons that have made their home at the base near Ogden, Utah, for nearly four decades.

Two F-16 training squadrons are moving from Hill to Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico to make room at Hill for new F-35s.

Hill personnel held a ceremony Friday at the base to bid farewell to the F-16s, which first arrived at Hill in 1979.

Officials say the Ogden Air Logistics Complex will continue to perform support for the Air Force's F-16 fleet as needed.

Hill currently has the Air Force's only fully operational F-35 wing.

Corrections Officer Accused Of Taking Drugs Into PrisonAssociated Press

A New Mexico corrections officer has been arrested and accused of taking drugs into a state prison in Los Lunas.

The State Police says 21-year-old Manuel Romero of Belen was arrested Wednesday after investigators determined he had distributed narcotics inside the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility.

The State Police says prison personnel had reported that Romero was spotted giving an item to an inmate and that the inmate later was discovered suffering from a narcotics overdose. Drugs were found in the inmate's cell and the inmate was medically treated for the overdose.

Romero was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and of bringing contraband into a prison.

Online court records don't list an attorney who could comment on the allegations and no phone is listed under Romero's name.

Experts: New Mexico Recovering From Dip In ExportsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Trade experts say New Mexico is recovering from a post-election dip in exports to Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that President Donald Trump's America-first trade policies took a bite out of the state's surging exports to its southern neighbor last fall and over the winter. Statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department revealed a 9 percent drop in the first half of 2017 compared with the same period last year.

Exports to Mexico totaled more than $810 million from January to June, down from $890 million for the first half of 2016.

While the state has yet to fully recover from the postelection downturn, Jerry Pacheco with the International Business Accelerator at Santa Teresa says it has generally returned to business as usual. He says companies are now either holding steady or climbing in sales.

Push On To Rehabilitate Historic Forest Fire Lookout TowerKRQE-TV, Associated Press

Santa Fe National Forest officials hope to preserve an historic fire lookout tower and offer it for public use.

The Glorieta tower located about 10 miles east of Santa Fe has long been decommissioned. But a booster group for the forest has begun raising up to $100,000 to rehabilitate the tower for rental use.

Forest archaeologist Mike Bremer says fixing up the tower would allow people to see what it was like when it was built in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Bill Zunkel of the nonprofit Friends of the Santa Fe National Forest told KRQE-TV the tower needs protection from lightning and other weather conditions. Brenner says he hopes it can be refitted with observation equipment used by lookouts to spot and report fires.

Rail Runner Eyes Service Cuts Amid Mandated Safety UpgradesKRQE-TV, Associated Press

Expensive federal safety standards may force New Mexico to reduce service for the state's commuter rail line.

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reports the Rail Runner faces a short deadline and an estimated $50 million cost to implement a state-of-the-art train safety system called "Positive Train Control."

State officials acknowledge the Rail Runner is unlikely to make a Dec. 31, 2018, deadline for installing the safety system. They have submitted a limited operations plan that may reduce the number of daily passenger trains that travel from Belen to Santa Fe.

The required technology upgrade is an automatic, computer controlled braking system. It uses GPS satellites, radio towers and ground sensors to track where trains are moving and how fast they're going.

The system is aimed at preventing high-speed derailments or crashes.

Ruling Says Detective Has Shield In Suit Over Fatal ShootingAssociated Press

A federal court has ruled that a Doña Ana County sheriff's detective has a legal shield against a lawsuit filed by the estate of an armed man fatally shot by the detective during a 2015 encounter in an alley.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Friday says Chase Thouvenell had qualified immunity because 34-year-old Michael Malone's estate hadn't shown that Thouvenell clearly used excessive force in violation of Malone's Fourth Amendment rights.

Thouvenell was among officers who went to a motel to arrest Malone. He was wanted on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, felon in possession of a firearm and battery against a household member.

Authorities say Malone fled the motel through a window and was shot after he ignored commands to drop his gun.

12 Arrested In Protests Of Conquistador PageantAssociated Press

Police have arrested 12 people in Santa Fe during protests about a costumed re-enactment of the return of Spanish conquerors to New Mexico after a 17th century American Indian revolt.

Police Sgt. Gardner Finney said a dozen people were arrested Friday on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Protesters were cordoned off in a corner of Santa Fe's downtown plaza during the re-enactment as police thronged the area.

At the center of the plaza, a pageant marked the arrival of conquistador Don Diego de Vargas in 1692, 12 years after Pueblo Indians revolted and drove out Spanish colonists.

Protesters shouted, "You're on stolen land" and "1680," referring to the year of the Native American revolt.

Grand Jury Indicts New Mexico Teen In Library ShootingAssociated Press

A grand jury has returned a 33-count indictment against a high school sophomore accused of opening fire inside a New Mexico public library, killing two employees and seriously wounding four other people.

The Curry County district attorney's office says 16-year-old Nathaniel Jouett is being prosecuted as an adult. He's expected to be arraigned in the coming days.

The teen is facing two counts of first-degree murder and multiple counts of child abuse, aggravated battery and assault stemming from the Aug. 28 shooting rampage at the library in Clovis, New Mexico.

According to court records, Jouett told investigators that he initially intended to target his school and that he somehow ended up at the library. He told investigators he was mad and had been thinking "bad things" for some time.

Doctor Accused Of Faking Cancer Records To Delay SentencingAssociated Press

A New Mexico cardiologist is accused of falsifying cancer diagnosis and treatment documents to postpone or avoid sentencing in which he faces two years in federal prison for health care fraud.

Federal charges allege that 53-year-old Roy G. Heilbron of Santa Fe produced and submitted fake medical documents for prostate treatment in Costa Rica to support his request to postpone being sentenced Aug. 28 on his Feb. 17 guilty plea in the fraud case.

A skeptical judge denied the postponement request, and Heilbron was arrested Aug. 18 in Charlotte, North Carolina on an arrest warrant based on the new allegations.

Defense attorney Donald Marks did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Heilbron's behalf regarding the new allegations and clarification of whether Heilbron actually has prostate cancer.

New Mexico Athletic Director Pledges Integrity, TransparencyAssociated Press

The University of New Mexico's newest athletic director says he wants everyone to know that the athletic department isn't broken and he's committed to finding ways to excel on and off the field.

Eddie Nunez was introduced Friday at a packed news conference as the 13th athletic director in UNM's history. He replaces Paul Krebs, who announced his retirement in June after 11 years with the Lobos.

A Florida native who made his mark at LSU, Nunez will have to rebuild a program that's under scrutiny following questionable spending and a lack of transparency. State auditors and the New Mexico Attorney General's Office are conducting separate inquiries after questions were raised about the use of public money on a 2015 golf junket.

Nunez says financial responsibility, integrity and transparency will be mandatory at every level within the athletic department.