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    Doņa Ana County to prosecute migrant smugglers on state crimes

    Doņa Ana County to prosecute migrant smugglers on state crimes

    by: Julian Resendiz
    Posted: Apr 9, 2024 / 02:26 PM CDT
    Updated: Apr 9, 2024 / 11:32 PM CDT

    Dona Ana County DA partners with Border Patrol to identify child endangerment, extortion, reckless driving and violence against migrants


    SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (Border Report) – Doņa Ana County has become one of the nation’s hotspots for migrant smuggling and fatalities.

    The U.S. Border Patrol says 90% of the 149 migrant deaths reported in the El Paso Sector last year occurred in the desert of Southern New Mexico.

    Bodies often are found a couple of hundred yards away from emergency rescue beacons smugglers told migrants not to activate to call for help if injured or dehydrated. Vehicles loaded with migrants that crash at high speeds on the streets of El Paso, Texas, often started their flight in Doņa Ana County’s southernmost tip.

    That’s why New Mexico’s 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office has decided to help the federal government in the prosecution of state offenses committed by criminals associated with smuggling organizations.

    “Immigration and border security are the province of the federal government. For us, in the state, it’s about public safety,” Doņa Ana County District Attorney Gerald Byers said on Tuesday.

    The resources to accomplish these goals are limited […] That is why we are here to announce a partnership between Border Patrol and the 3rd Judicial District so for the first time, we will be looking at cases for prosecution that arise out of the interdiction of illegal border crossings promoted by transnational criminal organizations.”

    Groups: CBP undercounting migrant deaths on the border

    That includes working with the Border Patrol to identify child endangerment, extortion, fraud, intimidation of witnesses in smuggling cases, unlawful flight from law enforcement and violence against people kept in migrant stash houses, he said.

    “The list is quite extensive. It is a resource that has been underused because, if we can bring state forces to bear, that is another reason for transnational criminal organizations not to want to do business in New Mexico,” Byers said at a gathering of state and federal officials Monday in Sunland Park.

    Body found in Sunland Park near landfill

    Last August, for instance, authorities converged on Sunland Park after a child called 911 afraid because her mother had not returned to the house. The home turned out to be a stash house where five migrants were told to stay put and four American children had been left alone with them.

    A year earlier, two Mexican brothers trying to pay off a cartel debt were slapped with state charges after a rollover crash killed two migrants and injured several others in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

    With a federal court docket of migrant smuggling and illegal entry running into the hundreds, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico Alexander Uballez said he welcomes state collaboration.

    Visit the homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the U.S.-Mexico border

    “We have to be selective in New Mexico of where we spend our limited resources,” Uballez said at the Tuesday gathering organized by the El Paso Sector Border Patrol at the foothills of Mount Cristo Rey. “We work with them (state authorities) in analyzing state cases of violence to ascertain where the better venue is to charge that case. We use all tools to get us somebody who is a threat to public safety.”

    Uballez said his office has 98 staff attorneys for a district that includes the entire state of New Mexico, and not all of them deal with migration-related cases. A U.S. Attorney’s caseload may include anything from drug crimes to firearms violations to crimes committed in tribal land.


    Last edited by Beezer; 04-10-2024 at 12:16 PM.


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