Thursday, July 05, 2012

Officials worry gangs, cartels growing in rural NM

ALAMOGORDO, N.M.—Authorities are urging leaders in rural New Mexico to work to prevent Mexican drug cartels and notorious outlaw motorcycle gangs from continuing to spread into their communities. The Alamogordo Daily News reports that Otero and Lincoln counties are drug-trafficking hot spots where gangs are actively recruiting young people. The 12th Judicial District has recently filed more than 100 drug cases stemming from an Otero County Sheriff's sting operation, prosecutor Diana Martwick said. "We have big-time gangs coming in here," Martwick said recently. "They've been involved in all our violent crimes lately. When you see the Zetas up in Ruidoso at the racetrack, they're really here, and they're real. I am not saying this is like Albuquerque or even Roswell. I want to get a handle on it before we become the next Roswell." Authorities report that gangs and cartels are growing in Roswell and the New Mexico Four Corners region because of the general isolation, unpatrolled American Indian reservation roads and small law enforcement departments. Local police agencies have asked for an increased presence from Homeland Security officials. The FBI recently raided the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino in connection with what authorities say was a money laundering scheme involving the deadly paramilitary gang known as the Zetas. Seven people were arrested in a multistate sweep by federal agencies. The raids targeted a network that authorities said laundered millions of dollars for the Zetas by purchasing race horses. The Zetas, made up of former Mexican and Guatemalan soldiers, are accused of smuggling thousands of tons of drugs into the U.S. and dismembering rivals...more

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