Thursday News Roundup: ICE Denies Late Night NM Deportation Claim

Jul 24, 2014

ICE Denies Late Night New Mexico Deportation ClaimThe Associated Press

Federal immigration officials are denying allegations that immigrants held at a New Mexico detention center were being deported in the middle of the night.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said Wednesday the women and children housed at the Artesia facility weren't being pulled from sleep to board removal flights to Central America.

Immigration advocates who were allowed to visit the center said Tuesday that women there complained that children aren't getting proper medical care and people are being deported at odd hours before they can see a lawyer.

Federal authorities say at least three planes have deported immigrants from the center.

ICE officials say more of the 600 or so women and children at the center are scheduled to return to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador soon.

Ballot Initiative On Santa Fe Pot Rules Could Leave Enforcement OptionsSanta Fe Reporter

Albuquerque and Santa Fe voters may get a chance to decriminalize marijuana this Fall, but if those measures become law, questions linger over how they would be enforced.

The ballot initiatives would reduce certain marijuana penalties from criminal misdemeanors to $25 fines and no jail time. But if the initiatives pass, they’ll contradict a state law that orders small marijuana crimes to still be punished as a criminal misdemeanor with up to 15 days in prison.

A story in this week’s Santa Fe Reporter reports that Santa Fe Police Chief Eric Garcia says he would leave the degree of marijuana punishment up to each police officer’s own discretion—even if that city’s residents vote to decriminalize marijuana.

This position is drawing criticism from advocates, some of whom say that allowing different police officers to use different standards on marijuana violations, would undermine the point of decriminalization.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales told the newspaper that his office has already asked the city police department to make small marijuana crimes a low law enforcement priority.

New Mexico Legislator Denies Conflict Of Interest - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

A New Mexico legislator denies having a conflict of interest in voting for the state to sell a Santa Fe building and later getting a contract to broker its sale.

Democratic Sen. Phil Griego of San Jose tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that he didn't get the contract until a month after the legislative session ended.

Other legislators say state officials told them the sale was necessary because the building cost more to maintain than it made for the state. The building formerly housed the New Mexico Conservation Corps.

The Inn of Five Graces had a lease with a right of first purchase and bought the property for $570,000, $70,000 above the appraised value.

The Santa Fe Reporter first reported Griego's role in the sale of the building.

New Mexico Tribe Proposes Ending Gambling Payments - The Associated Press

Pojoaque Pueblo has proposed a gambling compact to the federal government that would allow the tribe to stop revenue sharing payments to the state.

The Interior Department has asked Gov. Susana Martinez and Attorney General Gary King to comment on Pojoaque's proposals for casino gambling on tribal lands north of Santa Fe.

The pueblo's compact with the state expires in mid-2015. The tribe is seeking a new compact through a procedure that would allow the Interior secretary to decide terms of a gambling agreement.

Currently, New Mexico tribes pay the state a share of slot-machine proceeds.

Pojoaque also proposes serving alcohol in casino gambling areas, which is currently prohibited.

A Martinez spokesman says the proposed compact would give Pojoaque a competitive advantage over its neighboring tribes.

Report To Outline Concerns From Espanola Shooting - The Associated Press

The Rio Arriba Community Health Council is set to release a report citing inadequate behavioral health and gun policies it says led to Espanola police shooting a teenager armed with a cap gun.

The council is expected to present the report today at a Legislative Behavioral Health Subcommittee meeting at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola.

Authorities say 16-year-old Victor Villalpando was shot by two Espanola officers June 8 after he called 911 using a different name. Police say he reported that the suspicious person was armed with a gun and hitting himself.

The report outlines what it calls flawed policies that made this shooting possible, along with recommendations designed to prevent future tragedies.

Navajo Nation Head To Meet With Mayor On Violence - The Associated Press

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says he will meet with Navajo officials to discuss the brutal killing of two homeless Native Americans.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly requested the visit, saying the tribe is appalled by the attack on its people.

The meeting is set for Thursday.

The medical examiner's office has identified the victims as Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson. The office says they men were Native Americans but couldn't say if they were Navajo or where they were from.

Police say the men were attacked in their sleep and beaten beyond recognition by three teenagers.

Police say one of the teens told them the trio had been attacking homeless people in Albuquerque for the past year.

Authorities say there is no evidence the victims were targeted because of their race.

Police: Shot Suspect Wanted On Illegal Firearms - The Associated Press

Officials say a 33-year-old man shot by Albuquerque police was wanted by federal authorities for possible illegal firearms possession.

Albuquerque police said Wednesday the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was seeking to take Jeremy Joe Robertson into custody when Albuquerque officers shot him.

Authorities say Robertson fled plain-clothed officers from a gas station and had pulled a firearm from his waist.

Police say he also was facing charges of aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon stemming for a case earlier this year.

The shooting comes as the city of Albuquerque and the U.S. Justice Department are locked in negotiations over ordered reforms following a harsh report into the police department's use of force.

Albuquerque police also have been under scrutiny for 41 police shootings — 27 of them fatal — since 2010.

Chinese Man Pleads Guilty In Sensor Smuggling Try - The Associated Press

A Chinese national accused of trying to smuggle sensors made for the U.S. military has pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act.

The U.S. attorney's office in Albuquerque announced Wednesday that 28-year-old Bo Cai also pleaded guilty to violating the International Traffic in Arms Regulations by scheming illegally to export defense articles to China.

Court documents say Cai and his cousin, 29-year-old Wentong Cai, were arrested on charges of smuggling goods and violating the Arms Export Control Act, which makes a license necessary to ship certain items to China, Syria and Sudan.

Authorities say the suspects met with an undercover agent about buying the sensors made in New Mexico for military guidance systems.

Bo Cai faces 20 years in prison. Sentencing has not been scheduled.

NMSU Creates Company To Manage, Develop Assets - The Associated Press

New Mexico State University is creating a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation to manage and develop the Las Cruces-based university's land, property and water assets.

According to the university, all of the Aggie Development Corp.'s net revenue will be contributed to the university, and NMSU President Garrey Carruthers says creating the corporation will make it easier for NMSU to produce revenue from its assets..

The corporation's seven-member board of directors will include regents, university administrators and two people from outside the university.

The NMSU Board of Regents authorized creation of the corporation on Wednesday.

The effort to establish the corporation will be led by Ben Woods, NMSU's special adviser to the president.

6 Mexican Wolves Released In Gila - The Associated Press

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it has released six more Mexican wolves into the Gila Wilderness as part of its 15-year-effort to reintroduce the endangered predator to the Southwest.

Officials say the wolves were driven from the service's wolf sanctuary in Sevilleta to the Gila Cliff Dwellings on Monday night, then packed into the wilderness for release on Tuesday.

The female wolf is one who was recaptured in May after becoming separated from her mate and having six pups with no experience in the wild. Two of the pups were put with another pair of wolves that had a smaller litter and more rearing experience. At the sanctuary, the mother and her four remaining pups were reintroduced to a former mate, who officials say adopted the pups as his own.

Damaged Levee Causes Flooding In Algodones - The Associated Press

Authorities say a damaged levee has led to flooding in Algodones.

The Sandoval County Sheriff's Department said the levee broke yesterday afternoon and caused flooding after a recent rain storm.

Officials say at least 10 homes were affected, although there were no reports of injuries.

Sandoval County Fire Department pumped water and helped residents with sandbags.

Algodones is located around 20 miles north of Albuquerque.