After a seven-month joint authorities operation known as “Alpha and Omega,” New Mexico’s streets are a little safer.
Alpha and Omega combines the United States Marshals Service for the District of New Mexico, New Mexico Department of Corrections (NMCD), and local law enforcement agencies, who have been working together to locate and arrest wanted paroled felons. From May 15, 2017 to December 31, 2017, the gang task force sought out the most dangerous of parolees with active warrants.
During the operation, 106 fugitives were apprehended from 41 different gangs. Nine of those were national gangs, while 32 were native to New Mexico. David Jablonski, the cabinet secretary for New Mexico corrections department, said in a press release:
“This operation targets the most dangerous criminals and known gang members in our communities who have violated their probation or parole and continue to pose a threat to public safety. The United States Marshals Service is an important partner in sharing intelligence to track down these offenders and we’re thankful for their cooperation and assistance in making our community safe.”
Among charges brought against the arrestees were: 12 homicides, 12 rapes, six weapons offenses, 89 assaults, 176 batteries, and 146 narcotics-related crimes. And these were not first-time offenders. The press release highlighted four of the most notable arrests:
- Robert Sanchez: alleged SNM member; reportedly committed two homicides.
- Jose Salazar: alleged SSR MOB gang member; accused of one homicide.
- Troy Pope: reported member of the Aryan Brotherhood gang; alleged with one homicide.
- Maria Torrez: alleged member of the Eastside Chihuahuita gang; charged with two homicides.
New Mexico is not new to gang violence. State officials say the gang population is growing at an alarming rate, and they blame that on members from California and Texas moving to the area based on the belief that New Mexico’s laws are more lenient. A significant portion of the gang activity is in the drug business. Is it a coincidence that the state’s motto is “Crescit eundo” which means “it grows as it goes?”
Arresting dangerous repeat offenders was not the only reason for Alpha and Omega. As United States Marshal for the District of New Mexico, Conrad E. Candelaria, stated in the press release, it was also meant to help prevent youth from joining gangs:
“Our youth is the precious social fabric in our society and when they become involved in criminal gang behavior it diminishes the future prosperity of our society. This violent crime reduction initiative that was spearheaded by the Marshals Fugitive Task Force, in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Corrections, what becomes obvious is that criminal gang behavior continues to plague our New Mexico communities, which further reinforces the importance of law enforcement jurisdictions to continue working as a force multiplier in pursuing and apprehending dangerous criminal gang members that have absconded justice.”
For now, at least, The Land of Enchantment is rid of more than 100 violent repeat offenders.