THURS: NM authorities raid homes looking for evidence of alleged biker gang crimes, + More
New Mexico authorities raid homes looking for evidence of alleged biker gang crimes - Associated Press
Federal and state authorities in New Mexico carried out raids in towns around the state Thursday, searching for evidence to link the Bandidos Motorcycle Club to a racketeering conspiracy and other crimes.
FBI and state police units executed search warrants targeting 25 alleged biker gang members. Federal court records state that the investigation comes as the Bandidos allegedly intensify their search for rivals to kill or seriously injure.
Informants have told authorities that Bandidos leadership is concerned about looking weak for not avenging the shooting deaths of two members in May during a motorcycle rally in Red River.
No one has been prosecuted to date in connection with the shootout between members of the Bandidos and a much smaller motorcycle club, the Water Dogs, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The violence at the rally was linked in part to a photo taken at a wedding that showed the leader of the New Mexico-based Water Dogs standing with at least one member of the Mongol Motorcycle Club. The Mongols have been trying to increase the club's presence in New Mexico. Historically, the Bandidos have considered the state part of their territory.
In an affidavit, FBI Special Agent Bryan Acee stated that the Bandidos who were targeted in the searches "have been the most aggressive proponents of violent conflict." He suggested that the search warrants would mitigate the current threat and result in the seizure of valuable evidence.
Court documents also state that over the past four years, law enforcement officials in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma have observed a sharp increase in violence between the Bandidos and the Mongols Motorcycle Club.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the district of New Mexico confirmed Thursday afternoon that searches took place in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Los Lunas, Belen, Tomé, Grants, San Rafael, Gallup, Farmington, Hobbs, Alamogordo, Ruidoso, Capitan and Arabela.
Officers seized 151 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, numerous ballistics vests, as well as fentanyl, meth and cocaine. A stolen police radio also was recovered.
At least two people were arrested on state charges, and authorities said charges were pending against a third.
3 people fatally shot during apparent drug deal in southeast Albuquerque, police say - Associated Press
Three people were killed in a shooting in southeast Albuquerque that stemmed from an apparent drug deal early Thursday, authorities said.
City police did not immediately release the names of a woman and two men who were found with gunshot wounds around 5 a.m.
Police spokesperson Chase Jewell said two of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene while the other person died at a hospital.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said officers found drugs and some guns at the shooting scene.
"This appears to be some sort of narcotics transaction that resulted in some type of shootout in the neighborhood," Medina told the Albuquerque Journal.
Officers detained a man who had a felony warrant and was in the area of the shooting but Medina said it was unclear if that man was involved.
Police said the department's homicide unit was taking over the investigation.
Legacy of Native American boarding schools comes into view through a new interactive map - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press
A group focused on shedding more light on the troubled legacy of boarding schools where Indigenous children were stripped of their culture and language as part of assimilation efforts released a new interactive map that includes dozens of additional schools in the U.S. and Canada.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition already had what was considered the most extensive list of boarding schools. The total now stands at 523 schools, with each dot on the map providing some brief details about the school.
The Minnesota-based group has spent years building its inventory of data, with efforts being bolstered in recent years by the U.S. Interior Department. The federal agency released its own list of more than 400 schools last year as part of an ongoing investigation meant to recognize the multigenerational trauma that resulted from boarding school policies.
The coalition's latest research identified an additional 115 schools, with the majority being operated without federal support by church institutions that had authority to establish schools to carry out U.S. policies meant to assimilate Native children.
Samuel Torres, the coalition's deputy chief executive, sees the map as a tool that can help relatives who are seeking answers and those who are healing.
"Every Indigenous person in this country has been impacted by the deliberate attempt to destroy Native families and cultures through boarding schools," Torres said. "For us to visually see the scope of what was done to our communities and Nations at this scale is overwhelming, but this work is necessary to uncover the truth about this dark chapter in American history."
The coalition already is using the latest findings to inform future research and archival digitization efforts. In November, it plans to update the map to include links to archival records.
The map was created in partnership with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, which is dedicated to educating people about injustices inflicted on First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation by the forced removal of children from their families in that country.
"Through this digital map, we are not just capturing history," said Jessie Boiteau, a member of the Métis Nation and a senior archivist for the center. "We have created a tool that can be used today to impact what happens in the future."
Senators urge NM to quickly deliver public disaster money but emergency agency says it can’t yet - Megan Gleason, Source New Mexico
The federal government promised over a year ago to pay for all the damage the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire and subsequent disasters like flooding did to counties in northern New Mexico.
Local officials who are still trying to start repair work haven’t seen much of that disaster aid yet. Some of the money is sitting at the state level.
Members of New Mexico’s federal delegation are urging New Mexico to quickly get money to affected areas.
They’re focused on funds that the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered a month ago. On July 31, FEMA sent $6.6 million to the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management so it can reimburse San Miguel County for road and bridge repairs.
That hasn’t happened.
It’s not possible to reimburse San Miguel County yet because those road and bridge repairs haven’t started, said DHSEM spokesperson David Lienemann.
Lienemann said once this repair work is completed and paperwork is reviewed, the state agency will reimburse the county.
San Miguel County Manager Joy Ansley said officials hope to start repair projects funded by a state loan in about the next month or so, but she doesn’t know when they’ll be completed.
She said the county has to first design the repair projects, hire a contractor and finalize paperwork before getting started. The county created a project manager position to oversee it all, she added, approved in May and filled in late July.
“It’s going to be a process that will take longer than a couple weeks to accomplish,” Ansley said via email.
It’s been over a year since President Joe Biden committed to fully paying for all the public damage costs local governments accrued.
Since then, FEMA has sent over $64 million in Public Assistance funds to New Mexico.
Lienemann said the state’s emergency management agency has reimbursed $12.1 million to pay back officials for disaster recovery work.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich said the most recently delivered FEMA funds for San Miguel County will bring victims one step closer to being made whole again. He said New Mexico needs to make sure this relief gets to the community as soon as possible.
“I will not stop fighting until all New Mexicans impacted by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire are made whole again, and this investment takes us one step closer to getting this done,” Heinrich said.
U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján said the $6.6 million is a critical investment, and he’s proud it will go toward reimbursing the county for repair work.
“From New Mexicans’ livelihoods, small businesses, and the local roads connecting them, the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire and the flooding that followed devastated San Miguel County,” he said.
Knowing that the federal process would take a while to actually deliver disaster aid dollars, New Mexico lawmakers in February set aside $100 million in state loans for public entities.
It took months for anyone to get that money.
San Miguel County has gotten $24 million altogether in state loans to use for repair work while waiting for federal dollars to come down, according to Department of Finance and Administration data.
That includes a loan to the county for the $6.6 million. The New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration executed that loan on July 25, just days before the state actually got the federal funds from FEMA.
A spokesperson from Heinrich’s office said the state is still obligated to deliver the federal funds to the affected counties, even if the loans came down in the meantime.
When San Miguel County gets the federal funds, it has a month to pay back the loans.
DIGGING INTO THE $64M
A breakdown of the $64.3 million FEMA has delivered and what it’s supposed to be used for, according to a FEMA news release:
- $21.3 million for public utilities
- Almost $16.7 million for debris removal
- $13.8 million for emergency protective measures
- $9.6 million for road and bridge repair
- $2.6 million for management
- $154,000 for public buildings and equipment
- Almost $87,000 for parks and recreational facilities
Top prosecutors back compensation for those sickened by US nuclear weapons testing - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press
New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and 13 other top prosecutors from around the U.S. are throwing their support behind efforts to compensate people sickened by exposure to radiation during nuclear weapons testing.
The Democratic officials sent a letter Wednesday to congressional leaders, saying "it's time for the federal government to give back to those who sacrificed so much."
The letter refers to the estimated half a million people who lived within a 150-mile (240-kilometer) radius of the Trinity Test site in southern New Mexico, where the world's first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945. It also pointed to thousands of people in Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Montana and Guam who currently are not eligible under the existing compensation program.
The U.S. Senate voted recently to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act as part of a massive defense spending bill. Supporters are hopeful the U.S. House will include the provisions in its version of the bill, and President Joe Biden has indicated his support.
"We finally have an opportunity to right this historic wrong," Torrez said in a statement.
The hit summer film "Oppenheimer" about the top-secret Manhattan Project and the dawn of the nuclear age during World War II brought new attention to a decadeslong efforts to extend compensation for families who were exposed to fallout and still grapple with related illness.
It hits close to home for Torrez, who spent summers visiting his grandmother in southern New Mexico, who lived about 70 miles (110 kilometers) from where the Trinity Test was conducted. She used rainwater from her cistern for cooking and cleaning, unaware that it was likely contaminated as a result of the detonation.
The attorneys general who signed onto Torrez's letter are from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
The attorneys mentioned the work of a team of researchers who mapped radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons tests in the U.S., starting with the Trinity Test in 1945. The model shows the explosions carried out in New Mexico and Nevada between 1945 and 1962 led to widespread radioactive contamination, with Trinity making a significant contribution to exposure in New Mexico. Fallout reached 46 states as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.
"Without any warning or notification, this one test rained radioactive material across the homes, water, and food of thousands of New Mexicans," the letter states. "Those communities experienced the same symptoms of heart disease, leukemia, and other cancers as the downwinders in Nevada."
The letter also refers to an assessment by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which acknowledged that exposure rates in public areas from the Trinity explosion were measured at levels 10,000 times higher than currently allowed.
U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, the New Mexico Democrat who has been leading the effort to expand the compensation program to include New Mexico's downwinders and others in the West, held a listening session in Albuquerque last Thursday. Those exposed to radiation while working in uranium mines and mills spoke at the gathering about their experiences.
Luján in an interview called it a tough issue, citing the concerns about cost that some lawmakers have and the tears that are often shared by families who have had to grapple with cancer and other health problems as a result of exposure.
"It's important for everyone to learn these stories and embrace what happened," he said, "so that we can all make things better."
Current and former Albuquerque firefighters charged with rape - KUNM News, Albuquerque Journal
Police have charged two current and one retired Albuquerque firefighter with rape.
The Albuquerque Police Department said in a statement Wednesday that Aden Heyman, Angel Portillo and Anthony Martin are charged with Criminal Sexual Penetration.
The Albuquerque Journal reports Heyman is a lieutenant for Albuquerque Fire Rescue, Portillo is a firefighter and Martin was a driver before his recent retirement, according to a spokesperson for the department.
They’re accused of raping a woman at an apartment in northeast Albuquerque following a golf tournament last month. A neighbor called the cops after the alleged victim escaped through a bathroom window, according to police.
The fire department says the two active employees are on administrative leave while it investigates the matter. It’s also cooperating with the now criminal investigation.
Fire Chief Emily Jaramillo tells the Journal the internal investigation began last month when the department became aware of the allegations against its employees, which she called “alarming.”
Trial ends in River of Lights hit-and-run case - KRQE-TV, KUNM News
The jury has begun deliberations in the trial of the man accused of hitting and killing a child with an off-road vehicle outside the River of Lights event in 2021.
KRQE-TV reports closing arguments in the case wrapped up Wednesday.
Segio Almanza, 29, is accused of running a red light with an ATV and striking 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya, killing him. The child’s father was also injured in the crash.
Almanza is charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence, leaving the scene of accident with great bodily harm and tampering with evidence.
Prosecutors reiterated their case that Almanza was drunk behind the wheel in their closing argument, while the defense said there is no physical evidence proving so.
Almanza faces up to 27 years in prison if convicted.