Possible Human Bones Found In West ABQ, NM Hashing Out Payday Loan Rules

Jul 3, 2018

Possible Human Remains Found Near West Mesa Burial Site- Associated Press

A construction crew in Albuquerque has found possible human remains near a West Mesa burial site.

Albuquerque police say the crew was working with heavy machinery Tuesday in a development adjacent to the area where the bodies of 11 women and unborn child were found buried in shallow graves in 2009.

That case remains unsolved.

Authorities say the remains found Tuesday were unearthed less than a quarter mile from the original burial site in an arroyo that connected the two areas.

They also say it's possible the remains are historical and unrelated to the West Mesa Murders case.

Albuquerque Mayor Vetoes Funding For Golf Complex- Associated Press

Albuquerque mayor, Tim Keller has vetoed a $2.6 million economic development package that would provide some funding for the construction of a golf entertainment complex.

Albuquerque city councilors had approved the package for Topgolf last month in an 8-1 vote.

Mayor Tim Keller's administration had voiced concerns over the package prior to Keller's veto on Monday.

Keller has called the package a "raw deal for taxpayers."

He says the project raises serious concerns, particularly about the number of incentives it was set to receive as well as the lack of protections for taxpayer funding usually included.

The city's Economic Development Department and the Albuquerque Development Commission also found issues with the project.

The city council will need six votes to override Keller's veto.

New Mexico Man Gets 170-Year Prison Term In Child Porn Case- Associated Press

A New Mexico man has been sentenced to 170 years in federal prison for producing and possessing child pornography and conspiring to transport people illegally into the country.

Prosecutors say 34-year-old Samuel Elliott of Columbus also was ordered to pay more than $210,000 in restitution to each of the three children victimized by the child porn production scheme.

They say Elliott got 30 years in prison on each of three child porn counts to run consecutive for 90 years. He also got 20 years in prison for each of four porn possession counts to run consecutive for 80 years and a concurrent 15-month term for the transporting charge.

Prosecutors say the child porn crimes occurred between December 2012 and July 2013 while Elliott conspired to transport immigrants in August 2013.

New Mexico Still Hashing Out New Rules For Payday Loans- Associated Press

It took years for New Mexico lawmakers to finally reach consensus on overhauling the storefront-lending marketplace by capping interest rates. But state regulators have yet to finalize the rules needed under the new law to bolster consumer protections and enforcement.

A panel of lawmakers heard from consumer advocates this week that are pushing for the regulations to be finished and for loopholes to be closed.

An interim legislative committee passed a resolution Monday asking regulators to report on how they're enforcing the law. That report is due later this year.

The Regulation and Licensing Department's Financial Institutions Division has received four complaints against licensed small-loan lenders since January, when the law took effect. The agency didn't release details about those cases but said each complaint is thoroughly investigated.

Top New Mexico Prosecutor Sees Drawbacks To Zero-Tolerance – Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says he is concerned that the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy on illegal border crossings might impede and distract from efforts to prosecute organized crime along the border with Mexico.

Balderas on Monday visited the border fence with local elected and law enforcement officials in the New Mexico community of Sunland Park and also met with prosecutors from the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Balderas, a Democrat, says he fears some law enforcement efforts could be undermined by the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy of referring all illegal border crossing cases for criminal prosecution.

He says U.S. attorneys may be overburdened by low-level immigration cases, playing into the hands of international criminals. He fears tough rhetoric on immigration might discourage immigrants from cooperating on human trafficking cases.

Bandelier Monument To Host July 4th Citizen CeremonyAssociated Press

A group of immigrants will be sworn in as U.S. citizens during a special July 4th ceremony at the Bandelier National Monument.

U.S. District Court Judge M. Christina Armijo is scheduled to administer the Oath of Allegiance to 16 citizenship candidates. Officials say the new citizens are from Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is welcoming around 14,000 new U.S. citizens in more than 175 Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies across the country between June 28 and July 10.

3 Closed Manhattan Project Sites To Open For Science FestLos Alamos Monitor, Associated Press

Three historic sites in New Mexico connected to the development of the world's first atomic bomb will open for a science festival.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports the Manhattan Project National Historical Park's sites located "behind the fence" in Los Alamos will be made available on July 12 and 13 to a small crowd during ScienceFest 2018.

The sites — Pond Cabin, Battleship Bunker and the Slotin Building — are on property managed by the Department of Energy and are currently off-limits to the public.

Los Alamos ScienceFest celebrates the history and science of Los Alamos.

Scientists working in the then-secret city of Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the World War II-era Manhattan Project. The bombs were later dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Amtrak Explores Ending Passenger Service From Dodge CityHutchinson News, Associated Press

Amtrak is considering ending passenger train service from southwest Kansas to central New Mexico and instead implementing a bus connection on the route.

The Hutchinson News reports that Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson revealed to lawmakers last week the train operator is looking into ending Southwest Chief service between Dodge City, Kansas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The announcement came after lawmakers asked the company to stand behind agreements it previously made to upgrade and maintain its route through the south-central U.S.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, says he's disappointed in "the lack of commitment on the part of Amtrak to keep its word" on upgrading the Southwest Chief route.

The nearly 2,300-mile passenger train service has run daily between Chicago and Los Angeles since 1974.

Hobbs Police Facing Questions After Video Shows ArrestHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

Hobbs police are facing questions after cellphone footage showed an officer pulling a black man to the ground during a melee.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports video shared on social media showed the officer forcefully grabbing an African-American man to the pavement, drawing concern from the NAACP Hobbs branch.

Police say four people were arrested Thursday night after officers approached two people standing in front of a roadway while the officers were conducting a traffic stop.

Police say as officers approached the two people another man began "obstructing their investigation." Authorities say a crowd formed around the officers who faced physical threats.

NAACP Hobbs branch president Joe Cotton says he intends to talk with people at the scene.

Hobbs Police Chief Chris McCall says the case will be reviewed internally.

New Mexico State Police Officer Accused Of Trafficking DrugsAssociated Press

Authorities say a New Mexico State Police officer has been arrested on federal drug trafficking charges.

Prosecutors say 33-year-old Daniel Capehart of Bloomfield was taken into custody by the FBI last Friday.

He was assigned to patrol duty in Farmington and San Juan County and is on administrative leave.

A criminal complaint alleges Capehart abused his position as a law enforcement officer by stealing drugs seized during arrests and giving them to females with whom he was interested in pursuing romantic or sexual relationships.

Capehart made his initial appearance Monday in federal court in Farmington on charges of distribution of marijuana and methamphetamine.

He remains in custody pending preliminary and detention hearings scheduled for July 5 in federal court in Albuquerque.

It's unclear if Capehart has a lawyer yet.

Nuclear Security Agency Begins Work On New Mexico ComplexAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

3wThe head of the U.S. agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons cache and key deterrence initiatives around the globe described working conditions at one of its largest hubs as untenable.

Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, visited Albuquerque on Monday to mark the start of construction on a multimillion-dollar complex that will serve as a new workspace for some 1,200 employees.

The new structure will replace 25 separate buildings — many built during the Cold War as military barracks — on Kirtland Air Force Base­.

Gordon-Hagerty says more than half the agency's facilities overall are at least 40 years old and nearly one-third date back to the top-secret Manhattan Project.

Nearly $100 million in federal funding was secured for the project. Another $40 million is included in spending measures pending in Congress.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that after construction is completed, Kirtland’s campus will expand to include the new building.

Group Wants Route 66 On List Of National Historic TrailsAssociated Press

A national nonprofit says it will push for Historic Route 66 to be designated as a National Historic Trail.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announcement says it's embarking on a month-long road trip that will cover the full length of the historic highway as part of its campaign for the designation.

The trip was to begin Monday in Chicago and finish August 3 in Los Angeles, with stops planned in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and other states along the route.

The National Park Service says there are currently 19 designated National Historic Trails, including the Trail of Tears, the Lewis and Clark trail, and the Selma to Montgomery March in Alabama.

It is up to Congress to decide whether a route should be designated as a National Historic Trail.

Probe Says New Mexico Fire Was Human CausedAssociated Press

An investigation has determined a wildfire that has charred a few square miles of forest land in northern New Mexico was human-caused.

Forest officials announced the findings Sunday. They declined to say how the fire was started or release any other details about the ongoing investigation.

The blaze burning in a remote area southeast of Taos has blackened more than 3 square miles. Hot and dry conditions have helped to fan the flames, causing the fire to spread significantly over the last few days.

Most of New Mexico is mired in drought and fire restrictions remain in place ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

In southern New Mexico, crews have been busy with a brush fire about 10 miles north of Las Cruces.

Colorado Wildfire Destroys More Than 100 HomesAssociated Press

More than 100 homes have been destroyed by a Colorado wildfire that investigators say was started by an illegal campfire.

San Luis Valley Emergency tweeted Monday night that 104 homes have been destroyed so far by the wildfire east of Fort Garland. The blaze has burned 89 square miles and forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 homes since last Wednesday.

According to court documents, 52-year-old Jesper Joergensen initially said he had started a fire to burn trash but then said he had been grilling in a permanent fire pit the day before the blaze began.

Joergensen, who reported the wildfire, is from Denmark and has been living in the country illegally. It's not clear if he has an attorney.