Border Group Leader Injured In Las Cruces Jail, Teen Sought In Fatal Shooting Of Mail Carrier

Apr 24, 2019

Border Group Leader Injured In New Mexico Jail AltercationAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Authorities say the leader of a civilian group that has detained asylum-seeking migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border was injured while he was jailed in New Mexico, after being arrested on federal weapons charges.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday in a statement that 69-year-old Larry Hopkins was transferred Tuesday out of the county jail after suffering non-life threatening injuries Monday night.

The statement did not provide specifics on the "alleged battery" in which Hopkins was injured in Las Cruces, but Hopkins' lawyer, Kelly O'Connell, told the Albuquerque Journal that his client was hospitalized for rib injuries following an altercation.

The FBI arrested Hopkins on a federal complaint accusing him of being a felon in illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

O'Connell has said Hopkins will plead not guilty.

New Mexico's Top Elections Chief Joins Race For US Senate - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Democratic New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has announced the start of her campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat in 2020.

Toulouse Oliver will be competing for the Democratic nomination with six-term U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján. Gavin Clarkson, who lost the election for secretary of state last year to Toulouse Oliver, is seeking the Republican nomination.

Toulouse Oliver says she wants to improve economic opportunity in New Mexico and believes it's important for the state to send its first woman to the Senate.

The 43-year-old mother of two has twice won statewide election as secretary of state to oversee elections and campaign finance regulations. She made her name in politics overseeing elections as Bernalillo County clerk from 2007-2015.

Toulouse Oliver's first campaign stop will be Thursday in Las Cruces.

Environmental Groups Unhappy With Feds' Jaguar Recovery PlanAssociated Press

A federal plan to help grow the population of the endangered jaguar in the Southwest is drawing criticism from environmental groups.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday released its final draft of a recovery plan for the jaguar.

The plan calls for two main habitat areas.

One includes parts of western Mexico up to southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico.

The other stretches from eastern Mexico to northern Argentina.

Advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife agues the plan essentially pushes more of the responsibility for recovery onto Mexico. The group also says the federal agency is overlooking millions of acres of potential habitat further north.

Jaguars are currently found in 19 countries. Only seven male jaguars have been seen in the U.S. since 1996.

New Mexico Invests Millions To Bolster Census Participation - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

New Mexico launched a multimillion-dollar effort Tuesday to ensure an accurate census count of its heavily Hispanic and Native American population, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the census should inquire about citizenship.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that draws on her Cabinet, advocacy groups and tribal liaisons to encourage participation in the upcoming census.

Her administration estimates the state receives about $7.8 billion annually from the federal government based on census counts to underwrite health care, educational programs, transportation, housing and more. The governor warned that a 1% census undercount could translate into more than $700 million in lost federal revenues over a decade.

New Mexico is one of the most difficult populations to accurately count, according to a comprehensive examination from the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York.

The Democratic governor criticized a new emphasis from the Census Bureau on internet and telephone questionnaires, saying that was more likely to overlook rural areas without reliable communication infrastructure.

Mail Carrier Fatally Shot In New Mexico, Teen Suspect Sought - By Mary Hudetz Associated Press

An on-duty mail carrier for the Postal Service was shot and killed in a New Mexico neighborhood after intervening in a dispute between a 17-year-old and his mother, police said Tuesday.

Authorities in Albuquerque were searching for suspect Xavier Zamora, who was accused of murder in a criminal complaint that says he shot the mail carrier Monday in the stomach.

The Postal Service identified Jose Hernandez as the victim, saying he was a 12-year employee.

"This is something that is completely unexpected," said Rod Spurgeon, a spokesman for the Postal Service.

Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement the shooting had shaken the city, where more than two dozen homicides have occurred since the start of the year.

Federal authorities have taken over the investigation because Hernandez was killed on his job as a federal worker.

Spurgeon referred questions about the investigation to the U.S. attorney's office, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Armed Border Group Shuts Down Camp At Border In New Mexico - Associated Press

An armed group that has been patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border left its post in the New Mexico desert Tuesday amid pressure from law enforcement following videos that showed militia members stopping migrants who had illegally crossed into the country.

Sunland Park police and security officers with a railroad company told members of the United Constitutional Patriots on Tuesday they needed to move their trailers and equipment. Union Pacific Railroad said the group crossed its land to access the site and requested that the group not trespass onto its property.

City spokesman Peter Ibaro said that police helped the railroad remove the group by 3:45 p.m. after they installed no trespassing signs. By Tuesday afternoon, all that remained at the encampment was a trailer.

The leader of the United Constitutional Patriots was arrested last weekend on 2017 weapons charges following widespread criticism spurred by videos of the group stopping migrants who illegally crossed the border.

Defense Funds Being Used For New Mexico, Arizona Border Wall

The U.S. government is moving forward with plans to use military funds to build border barriers in New Mexico and Arizona.

The Department of Homeland Security issued waivers to environmental laws last week to build and replace 46 miles of barriers near Columbus, New Mexico, and 11 miles near Yuma, Arizona.

The barriers are being funded by the Department of Defense following President Donald Trump's emergency declaration in February.

Last month, the federal government announced it had awarded contracts of nearly $1 billion to replace short barriers with tall fences in those areas.

The southern border has seen an influx of immigrants over the last several months and officials say they expect to make up to a million arrests by the end of the year.

New Mexico Forest Plans Thinning To Reduce Fire Threat - Associated Press

The U.S. Forest Service is planning another round of thinning in the mountains east of Albuquerque with the aim of reducing the potential for extreme wildfires.

The Sandia Ranger District says the work beginning later this week will cover more than a tenth of a square mile. It will involve thinning the area by hand, piling up fuelwood for later collection and chipping the leftover material.

There are no plans to close recreational trails in the area, but officials are warning visitors to use caution.

The entire project area encompasses nearly 30 square miles where high tree density has created unhealthy conditions and has increased the possibility of high-intensity wildfires.

New Mexico State Forestry, The Nature Conservancy and others are helping with the project.

City To Return Albuquerque Man's Classic Car After 10 Years - KOB-TV, Associated Press

An Albuquerque man says he is getting his classic 1970 Chevy returned to him a decade after officers seized it and said earlier this year they were going to turn it into a show car.

KOB-TV reports Leo Martinez's 1970 SS Chevy Chevelle 454 was seized in 2009 under a once widely used law enforcement tactic that has since been ruled unconstitutional.

Martinez's car was seized under an asset forfeiture program after he was pulled over on suspicion of drinking while driving. He pleaded guilty to a DWI and spent nine months in jail.

He says he could not locate his car until March when he saw a Facebook photo saying the city had it.

He sued the city. Police tell KOB-TV the car will be returned to Martinez.

Sports Betting Coming To Another New Mexico Tribal Casino - Associated Press

Another New Mexico tribe is gearing up to offer sports betting at its casino.

Isleta Pueblo announced Tuesday that its program is expected to open this summer, with USBookmaking serving as the provider.

It will be joining Santa Ana and Pojoaque pueblos, which jumped in following a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that struck down a federal sports gambling ban. Isleta officials say it was a victory for those pushing for more gambling options.

Federal officials have indicated that state gambling compacts with the tribes allow for sports betting.

The New Mexico Legislature has yet to approve any measures that would expressly permit sports betting, and a measure that would have prohibited the state lottery from offering games tied to the outcome of sports stalled during the recent session.