Tuesday News Roundup
9:32 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Headlines: NM Agencies Have $10M In Military Gear, FBI Wanted Sheriff Rodella's Badge And More...

Credit Sergio Jiménez / The Daily Lobo

Audit: NM Agencies Have $10M In Military GearThe Associated Press

Records show a U.S. Defense Department program which loans local law enforcement agencies surplus military gear has sent over 10-million dollars worth of weapons, helicopters and armored vehicles to New Mexico.

Documents show the Defense Department's "1033 program" has sent Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to small agencies like Clovis police and New Mexico State University Police.

Meanwhile, larger agencies like the Albuquerque Police Department have received weapons, utility trucks and mine-resistant vehicles.

The federal program is one of many under review by the White House in the aftermath of the police response to unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Law enforcement agencies in New Mexico say the extra military gear helps them in crisis situations.

But critics say the equipment is contributing to the unnecessary militarization of local police.

Documents: FBI Wanted NM Sheriff's Badge For DNA - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Court documents say FBI agents were looking for a New Mexico sheriff's badge to test it for DNA during a May raid.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that unsealed court document say agents were looking for Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella's badge and silver handgun when they searched his house and car.

Rodella and his son were indicted this month for conspiracy to violate a motorist's civil rights during an off-duty traffic stop in March.

Court papers say the sheriff was not in uniform when he jumped out of his Jeep SUV armed with a silver revolver. The indictment says Rodella shoved his badge in the motorist's face.

The new documents do not indicate if anything was seized in the search.

Court Eyes Tossing Charges In NM Van Shooting - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A proposed state appeals court order would dismiss charges against a Tennessee woman whose van was chased and shot at by a New Mexico State Police officer during a chaotic October traffic stop.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a New Mexico Court of Appeals judge proposed Monday tossing the criminal case against Oriana Farrell.

Last year, a New Mexico State Police officer shot at Farrell's van carrying her five children after she twice sped off and was stopped by another officer for speeding outside of Taos. Video of the shooting gained national attention and the officer was later fired.

Farrell, of Memphis, Tenn., is facing charges of fleeing an officer, child abuse and other charges.

The Taos district attorney can challenge the appeals court's proposal.

New Mexico Panel Discusses Future Of Gila River - The Associated Press

The Interstate Stream Commission will hear from experts and advocates as a deadline approaches for deciding what to do with New Mexico's share of the Gila River.

The commission is meeting today in Albuquerque. The agenda includes presentations on the economic, recreational and cultural implications of diverting part of the river.

The commission has until the end of the year to make a decision.

New Mexico has rights to some of the Gila and one of its tributaries under a 2004 settlement with Arizona.

If New Mexico doesn't use the water, it will flow into Arizona and the state will forgo millions of dollars in federal funds for construction of a diversion project.

However, critics say a diversion project could result in more costs and higher water bills for customers.

Man Sentenced In Albuquerque Gas Station Shooting - The Associated Press

A man has been sentenced to 37 years in prison for fatally shooting a clerk at an Albuquerque convenience near UNM’s main campus in 2012.

Prosecutors say 24-year-old Eloy Aguilar was sentenced yesterday under a plea agreement.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, kidnapping, attempt to commit a felony and tampering with evidence.

Prosecutors say Aguilar will serve five years of supervised probation after his release from prison.

Aguilar was accused of killing 36-year-old Chad Mercer on July 17, 2012 while two other men robbed people in the parking lot. The other two defendants already have been sentenced.

Police say the men intended to rob the convenience store when Aguilar shot Mercer.

EPA Takes Comment On Permit For Four Corners Plant - The Associated Press

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comment on a proposed permit for a northwestern New Mexico power plant.

The operator of the Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington plans to upgrade two units at the coal-fired plant to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. The E-P-A says the installation of what's known as selective catalytic reduction technology will result in an increase in sulfuric acid emissions.

That increase means the power plant is required to get a permit from the E-P-A that requires the plant operator to minimize the emissions.

The agency has scheduled public hearings tomorrow on the Navajo Nation, and Thursday in Shiprock and Farmington. The deadline to weigh in is September 24th.

Navajos To Reduce List Of 17 Presidential Hopefuls - The Associated Press

Navajos are narrowing down a list of 17 candidates hoping to become the next president on the country's largest American Indian reservation.

More than 114,000 Navajos are registered to vote in Tuesday's primary. The top two vote-getters advance to November's general election.

The candidates have focused their campaigns on securing water rights, improving education, growing business and sustaining Navajo culture.

Tribal President Ben Shelly is seeking re-election. His challengers include former President Joe Shirley Jr., tribal lawmakers Kenneth Maryboy and Russell Begaye, former Arizona state Rep. Chris Deschene and Donald Benally.

Contenders Carrie Lynn Martin, Myron McLaughlin, Dale Tsosie, Dan Smith, Hank Whitethorne, Edison "Chip" Begay, Moroni Benally and Cal Nez are relatively new to politics. The other candidates are Kee Yazzie Mann, Edison Wauneka and Duane "Chili" Yazzie.

Mexico To Increase Surveillance Of Railroad Lines - The Associated Press

A Mexican federal official says the government plans to improve railway surveillance and increase the speed of northbound trains in hopes of deterring Central American migrants from riding on top of freight cars.

Federal official Humberto Mayans said Monday that the measures aim to fight human trafficking, strengthen railway security, and protect migrants who historically have jumped on the trains they call "The Beast" to get to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mayans was recently appointed to head the federal government's southern border improvement plans.

He said the government plans to invest about $450,000 to improve railway infrastructure so trains can speed up. He didn't explain what the increased surveillance will entail.

Migrant rights activists say that in recent weeks federal officials have stopped migrants from getting on the trains.

2 People Injured After Car Crash Near Los Alamos - The Associated Press

Two people have been injured after a car apparently drove off Anderson Outlook into a canyon near Los Alamos.

Santa Fe police say the driver was airlifted to UNM Hospital in Albuquerque after Monday's accident.

They say crews were working to remove the passenger from the vehicle.

Police say the cause of the accident isn't immediately known and the names of two people injured weren't immediately released.

They say N.M. 502 near Los Alamos was closed in both directions and the truck route for the highway was being used as an alternate route.

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