Governor Seeks Probe Of Immigrant Processing Center, Pine Cone Collectors Help Fire-Ravaged Forests

Oct 28, 2019

NM Governor Urges Probe Of Immigrant Processing CenterAssociated Press

New Mexico's governor is urging federal immigration authorities to open an investigation of conditions at a privately-managed processing center where Cuban migrants reportedly have attempted to kill themselves.

The office of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released letters Monday calling for an internal investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of conditions at the Otero County Processing Center in southern New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham is requesting a probe by ICE's inspector general and urged acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to intervene. She describes signs of cruel conditions and despair at the processing center 30 miles north of the U.S. border with Mexico at El Paso, Texas.

She says ICE's internal watchdog found egregious problems with unannounced visits last year to holding facilities in four other states.

Man Charged With Killing 5-Year-Old Girl Appears In CourtAssociated Press

A New Mexico man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend's daughter appeared in federal court Monday, nearly two months after the 5-year-old girl vanished from her yard and was later found dead in the Rio Grande.

Malcolm Torres was arrested a day earlier in Pojoaque Pueblo, a tribal community between the cities of Española and Santa Fe, and he has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge.

Federal court documents do not provide details about the accusations against Torres, except to say he killed Renezmae Calzada with "malice aforethought."

Authorities say Renezmae was last seen in early September playing in her family's yard in Espanola. After a three-day search, authorities recovered her body from the river north of Santa Fe.

An indictment says the girl was killed on tribal land near Española and that she was Native American, though it does not list her tribal affiliation.

A hearing to determine whether Torres will be jailed as he awaits trial has been set for Tuesday.

'Chile Capital Of The World' Gets Bus Service To Las CrucesAssociated Press

A southern New Mexico county is expanding its rural transportation service to a village known as the "chile capital of the world."

The South Central Regional Transit District began Monday bus service from Hatch, New Mexico, to Las Cruces. The service will also carry passengers from towns like Garfield, Salem, Rincon, Radium Springs, and the Village of Doña Ana.

Officials say the new service will provide access to work, school, and medical appointments.

The Green Route will operate four round trips daily, Monday through Friday. Its first trip from Garfield will begin at 6:10 a.m. and continuing throughout the day until its final stop 7:15 p.m.

In Las Cruces there will be stops at the Doña Ana Community College, Mesilla Valley Mall, and New Mexico State University.

Video Shows Transit Officers Beating Man Trying To Record ThemKOAT-TV, Associated Press

Two Albuquerque transit security officers have been on paid leave after video footage showed them beating a man who was trying to record them roughing up a detainee.

KOAT-TV reports the officers were placed on leave following the July 24 episode at the Alvarado Transit Center that prompted a police investigation.

According to police reports, the security officers attacked John Anthony Lopez while he tried to record the officers with his cellphone. Lopez says he told the officers they couldn't use physical force like that.

Video footage from a bus showed the security officers beating Lopez. He was later transported to a nearby hospital.

The transit security officers are not sworn or certified police officers.

Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office spokesman Michael Patrick says the case is being reviewed.

Woman In Farmington Now Facing 15 Felony Charges In 5 CasesFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A woman who allegedly defrauded a Farmington business of more than $11,500 is facing new charges.

Police say Brittany Lanier was arrested this week on suspicion of filing more than $21,000 in false insurance claims on an apartment fire and stolen laptop.

She's accused of filing false insurance claims for $20,000 and about $1,300 and defrauding a Farmington insurance office of nearly $1,600.

The Farmington Daily Times reports Lanier now has a total of 15 felony charges pending involving five cases.

She has a lawyer for two of her pending cases, but it's unclear who is representing Lanier for the three new cases.

Lanier has a status hearing scheduled for Oct. 31 in Farmington Magistrate Court.

Embezzlement Charges VS Ex-Torrance County Sheriff Dismissed - Associated Press

A judge has dismissed embezzlement charges filed against a former New Mexico sheriff-turned-judge accused of using taxpayer dollars to buy personal items.

Ex-Torrance County Sheriff Heath White was facing a list of charges including embezzlement and fraud.

State prosecutors say they plan to appeal Judge Charles Brown's decision.

In a 16-page order, Brown says there were omissions in the search warrant as well as some misleading information and evidence from the search allegedly was suppressed.

The Attorney General's Office says investigators with New Mexico State Police found several sheriff's office-owned items on White's property during a raid in April including guns, surveillance equipment and tools.

White has been suspended from the Magistrate Court bench in Moriarty since May. It's unclear if White is planning t0 return to that job now.

Fire-Ravaged Forests Get Help From Pine Cone Collectors - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Conservationists and forestry experts are scouring the American Southwest, hoping to gather as many ponderosa pine cones as possible to give nature a hand in restoring fire-scarred landscapes.

The goal: One million seeds.

It might sound lofty, but those helping with the project are looking to take advantage of a rare bumper crop this fall that has resulted from back-to-back summer and winter seasons of much needed rain and snow.

It takes time to find the patches of trees that will yield the most seeds. One spot is Burnt Mesa in northern New Mexico that overlooks vast expanses of rugged terrain that has seen its share of fire over the last two decades.

With drought and the severity of wildfires on the rise, scientists say seed collection and reforestation are becoming more important across the West.

New Mexico Signs On To Bolster Outdoor Recreation Industry - Associated Press

New Mexico has joined a dozen other states in committing to advance principles aimed at bolstering outdoor recreation.

The state's new director of outdoor recreation, Axie Navas, signed on during a three-day event in St. George, Utah that drew government officials, land managers, industry representatives and others.

The accords embody principles that focus on conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, economic development, and public health and wellness. They were developed last year by a bipartisan group of several states to promote and advance best practices for all states to consider.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says her state has a tremendous opportunity to expand the outdoor recreation economy in a sustainable and meaningful way and that means more jobs and economic opportunity in rural parts of the state.

New Mexico Governor Opposes Trump Proposal On Methane Rules - Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration is going on record against federal proposals to revoke Obama-era regulations on climate-changing methane leaks from many oil facilities.

The state Environment Department said Friday it submitted formal comments Thursday opposing the proposal that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in August would remove unnecessary and duplicative burdens from the oil and gas industry.

Lujan Grisham called the Trump administration's proposal unconscionable and part of an "ongoing assault on the environment."

The governor said New Mexico and other states "will lead the transition to a renewable energy economy and take aggressive steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions. "

New Mexico Rejoins Pact To Restore Mexican Gray Wolves - Associated Press

New Mexico wildlife officials are rejoining direct efforts to manage endangered Mexican gray wolf populations in cooperation with the federal government and states including Arizona.

The New Mexico State Game Commission voted unanimously with one absence on Friday to become a cooperating agency in the recovery program after leaving a pact in 2011.

Wildlife Division Chief Stewart Liley says the agreement will make New Mexico a lead player in the program with greater discretion over management decisions amid concern among ranchers about livestock falling prey to wolves.

The Mexican wolf is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America and has struggled since releases into the wild in 1998.

Surveys show at least 131 in the wild in the southern mountain ranges of New Mexico and Arizona.