Uruguay Issues Warning Not To Travel To Albuquerque, Judge Expands Medical Marijuana Program

Aug 6, 2019

Uruguay Issues Travel Warning Against Albuquerque, DetroitAssociated Press

Uruguay issued a warning to its citizens early this week about traveling to the U.S. after two mass shootings killed more than 30 people.

The Latin American country also cited three cities citizens should avoid: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Detroit and Baltimore, Maryland.

Uruguay's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the three cities are among the 20 most dangerous in the world and cited CEOWORLD magazine at its source.

Albuquerque has garnered national attention in recent years over its high auto theft rates and violent shootings.

Uruguay advised its citizens to avoid U.S. theme parks, shopping centers, art festivals, religious activities, and sporting events.

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry also issued a statement suggesting its citizens "postpone travel" to the U.S. in light of "violence and indiscriminate hate crimes."

New Mexico House Speaker Eyes Special Session Over TerrorismAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf is calling for a special session that would focus on legislation aimed at combating potential domestic terrorism in the border state.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Egolf said Tuesday the special session could take place after leading lawmakers hear from law enforcement officials and state Cabinet secretaries at a domestic terrorism summit later this month.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the summit earlier this week following the deadly shooting in El Paso that killed 22 people.

The Santa Fe Democrat says the special session would likely last just one or two days and could focus on legislation creating a new counter-terrorism unit within the state Department of Public Safety.

Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki says any special session talk was premature.

Official Says Nuke Program Serves As 'Ultimate Insurance Policy'Associated Press

The head of the U.S. agency that maintains the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal says the country is facing the most complex and demanding global security environment since the Cold War.

National Nuclear Security Administration chief Lisa Gordon-Hagerty spoke Tuesday at a business expo in New Mexico.

She said that Russia and China are investing significant resources to upgrade and expand their capabilities, Iran has increased its nuclear stockpile beyond limits set by a 2015 accord and North Korea's intentions remain unclear.

She described the United States' nuclear program as the "ultimate insurance policy."

Gordon-Hagerty's visit comes as the NNSA faces pressure to ramp up production of plutonium pits at facilities in New Mexico and South Carolina. The pits are key components for nuclear weapons.

Roswell Police Say Guns Found, Home Searched For ExplosivesAssociated Press

Roswell police say at least one suspicious person's phone call about a man placing multiple weapons on a car trunk led police to a home believed to possibly contain explosives.

Police said responding officers secured the weapons and took the 31-year-old man into custody late Monday for questioning by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The man's identity wasn't released.

Meanwhile, police said New Mexico State Police bomb technicians were at the home on a sparsely populated dead-block Tuesday to search for explosives after another home was evacuated overnight as a precaution.

Police Chief Phil Smith said calls from the public about suspicions activity can help avert violence such as the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

New Mexico Judge Broadens Medical Marijuana ProgramAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico judge has ordered state officials to issue identification cards for the medical marijuana program to all qualifying patients, including people who live outside the state.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the judge's order Monday was in response to an emergency petition filed by three out-of-state residents after the state Department of Health denied their applications to enter the cannabis program.

A state law that took effect in June removed the program's New Mexico resident requirement.

Department officials argued the change was not intended to allow non-residents to obtain medical marijuana cards.

It also says allowing non-residents in the program would encourage the transport of cannabis across state lines.

The department says it plans to file a response to the court order later this month.

Records Show State Agrees To $1M In Settlements With 3 EmployeesAssociated Press

Court documents show the state reached settlements totaling $1 million with three former state employees within the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

The settlement terms detailed in documents that were released Tuesday show Amy Orlando, a former deputy secretary for DPS, and another department employee each received $300,000. Another employee settled for $400,000.

The payouts were authorized last year near the end of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration after several employees sued the state with complaints ranging from wrongful termination and hostile workplace issues to retaliatory and inappropriate behavior by former State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.

He has denied wrongdoing.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration released the previously undisclosed settlement agreements after a 180-day period passed that had prevented them from doing so.

Ex-New Mexico Police Chief Sentenced For Child SolicitationRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

A former police chief in a New Mexico town has been sentenced to three years of probation and must register as a sex offender for sending sexual images and texts to a child.

The Roswell Daily Record reports 68-year-old Cassius "Cass" Mason was sentenced Monday after the former Hagerman police chief pleaded no contest to child solicitation by electronic device.

Chaves County authorities say Mason gave a cellphone to the girl and asked her send pictures of herself.

The victim's mother found the phone and alerted authorities to the sexual images and explicit texts.

A six-year prison sentence and two years of parole were suspended.

Prosecutors dropped sexual exploitation and criminal sexual contact charges in exchange for his plea.

New Mexico Governor Plans Summit On Domestic Terrorism Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be convening a summit to discuss ways to reduce the risk of domestic terrorist acts in the wake of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

The first-year governor announced Monday that she'll bring together state legislative leaders from both political parties as well as public safety officials from within her administration.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas also has been invited, and federal authorities are expected to give a briefing during the summit.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 14.

New Mexico Lowers State Flags To Honor Shooting Victims Associated Press

All New Mexico flags will fly at half-staff to honor the victims of the weekend's two deadly mass shootings.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order Monday for a mourning period for the 31 people killed in shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Lujan Grisham is calling for state flags to stay lowered through sundown Wednesday.

The Democratic governor also vowed to continue pushing for gun safety measures.

Authorities in El Paso, which is a short distance from the New Mexico-Texas border, announced Monday the deaths of two more shooting victims. The news brings the total number of those killed to 22.

Meanwhile, police say a gunman killed nine people in a popular entertainment district of Dayton, including his sister.

Navajo Weavings Donated To Farmington Museum - Associated Press

A museum in northwestern New Mexico will be receiving hundreds of Navajo weavings from the estate of former Farmington Mayor Robert Culpepper.

The Farmington Museum announced the gift Monday, saying some pieces date from the 1920s and others were done by contemporary weavers.

Officials say several of the rugs, such as the Wide Ruins and Chinle styles, fill gaps within the museum's existing collection.

The Farmington Museum plans to keep the best examples from the collection. The rest will be sold to benefit the museum along with the new Museum of Navajo Art & Culture.

Culpepper, who died last year, and his wife had purchased a historic building and donated it to the city in 2013 to create the Museum of Navajo Art & Culture. That museum opened last year.

EPA Official Defends Work On New Mexico Contamination IssueAssociated Press

An official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says he's hopeful posturing by public officials in New Mexico won't derail work being done by federal and state teams to better understand the scope of contamination at two military bases in the state.

EPA regional administrator Ken McQueen sent a letter to the New Mexico officials Tuesday.

It was in response to concerns by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state Environment Secretary James Kenney that the EPA wasn't helping with New Mexico's legal fight against the U.S. Air Force over contamination at Cannon and Holloman bases.

McQueen previously served as New Mexico's energy secretary and was recently appointed to the federal post. He says technical teams from the EPA and the state have been working to evaluate conditions at the bases and identify data gaps.

New Mexico Governor Says EPA Failing To Protect Public HealthAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing to protect public health and the environment by not helping the state in its legal battle against the U.S. Air Force over contamination at two military installations.

The governor took aim at the federal agency in a letter sent Friday to EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler.

The state in July had asked for the agency to pursue enforcement against the U.S. Defense Department for contamination at Cannon and Holloman air bases. The EPA responded that it isn't permitted to take legal action against another branch or agency of the federal government.

Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney argue that the EPA in other cases has issued compliance orders forcing federal agencies to address contamination.

Las Cruces To Digitize Permanent Museum Collection - Associated Press

A southern New Mexico city will be able to digitize its permanent museum collection with the help of a $50,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation American Art Program.

The city of Las Cruces announced the funding Monday. The city's museum collection includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and more.

Officials say the project will increase the accessibility of the permanent collection as digital images and updated information about each piece will be made available online.

Some objects also will be mapped and reproduced using three-dimensional printing technology. Visitors seeking a hands-on experience will be able to handle the reproductions.

Funding from the grant will be used to hire four contract employees to complete the work.

Judge To Rule On Texan Charged In Southwest Flight Dispute Dallas Morning News, Associated Press

A federal judge will determine whether a profanity-laced tantrum by a Texas man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight last year constituted a threat to the flight crew and passengers or was merely rude behavior.

Justin Riley Brafford was arrested and charged with flight crew interference after the Dallas-bound plane was diverted to Albuquerque, New Mexico, last October. A criminal complaint shows a female passenger complained that Brafford touched her and whispered unsolicited advances and she requested a seat change. Authorities say Brafford verbally attacked the woman and the flight attendant who granted her seat-change request.

A lawyer for the 29-year-old man from Denton filed a motion in June to dismiss the indictment, saying Brafford simply "acted rudely."

The Dallas Morning News reports that a ruling is slated for next week.

4 Chicago Residents Die, 3 Others Hurt In New Mexico Crash - Associated Press

Authorities say four Illinois residents are dead and three others injured after a vehicle rollover in New Mexico.

New Mexico State Police say the crash occurred Saturday on U.S. 54 north of the small town of Vaughn.

They say the SUV crossed the highway's center line into the northbound lane for an unknown reason and then swerved back to the southbound lane before rolling.

State Police say six passengers were ejected and three were declared dead at the scene — 69-year-old Ramon Morales, 17-year-old Daniel Salazar and 10-year-old Natalie Salazar, all from Chicago.

They say 41-year-old Francisco Salazar died while being airlifted to a hospital.

State Police say the 39-year-old driver and two other passengers — a 15-year-old boy and 21-year-old woman — were taken to a hospital for treatment.

This story reflects corrected figures on the number of people who died in the crash from 5 to 4.