In this week’s Chile Street:
Feds seize millions in cash, drugs as part of investigation into gang activity in New Mexico
Cowboys for Trump founder removed from office; governor will fill his seat
'90s themed Zozo draws record crowd
Mora County struggles to recover from fires, floods
Roadrunner population is growing, and the birds are being spotted in far-away states
Historic Rawlins House reopens with public event Saturday
And much more!
Good morning! Today is Friday, Sept. 9. Here’s a look at the past week in New Mexico news.
Millions in cash and fentanyl were seized during raids at 15 Albuquerque locations, part of an ongoing FBI investigation into a new alliance among street and prison gangs in the state, Colleen Heild of the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Law enforcement agents from multiple federal and state agencies located $4 million in cash along with what could be a record amount of fentanyl pills. The pills, believed to be destined for distribution in New Mexico, totaled more than 1 million.
Around 142 pounds of methamphetamine was also recovered, along with two hand grenades, ballistic vests, a bulletproof baseball cap, 37 firearms, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Authorities arrested five people, including one alleged member of the Sureños, a California-based gang with a large presence in Arizona and Nevada. Police said they also found ties to the violent New Mexico prison gang Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico.
Read Heild’s story here (paywall): abqjournal.com/2529243/millions-in-cash-fentanyl-seized-during-thursday-raid.html
Griffin Ousted from Office
A New Mexico District Court judge on Tuesday ordered the removal of Republican Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from his elected position and barred him for life from serving in elected federal and state positions. The ruling marked the first time an elected official was unseated by court order as a result of participating in or supporting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Ryan Lowery reported for Source New Mexico.
Judge Francis J. Mathew wrote in his decision that Griffin’s attempts “to sanitize his actions are without merit” and that his characterization of his actions “amounted to nothing more than attempting to put lipstick on a pig.”
The Otero County Commission met Thursday for the first time since the former commissioner was removed from office. Though Griffin wasn’t on the dais with the other commissioners, he did attend the meeting and even spoke during the public comment session.
During an interview Thursday, Griffin told Lowery that he spent the morning cleaning out his office, “With the undersheriff standing guard in the room.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will now appoint someone to fill Griffin's seat.
Griffin said he plans to appeal the court’s decision, and that instead of representing himself this time, he will be hiring “some great legal minds.”
Read Lowery’s stories here (no paywall): sourcenm.com/2022/09/06/couy-griffin-first-elected-official-barred-from-office-for-participating-in-jan-6-attack/
Other Top Stories
Zozobra draws huge crowd — Some 71,000 people attended this year’s '90s themed Burning of Zozobra, outpacing the record-setting 2019 burn when 63,000 people attended, Julia Goldberg reported for the Santa Fe Reporter.
Read Goldberg's story here (no paywall): sfreporter.com/news/2022/09/03/90s-themed-zozobra-brings-hella-crowd/
Mora County struggles following fires — With bridges threatening to collapse from flooding, destroyed roads trapping people in or away from their homes and poor cell service, Mora County still has a long way to go in recovering from the state’s largest wildfire, Megan Gleason of Source New Mexico reported.
Read Gleason's story here (no paywall): sourcenm.com/2022/09/06/mora-county-still-struggling-amid-flooding-disasters/
90 storage units robbed — Police in Albuquerque said at least 90 storage units were burglarized at Otter Self Storage. APD said the department has responded to three other burglaries at Otter Self Storage this year, Brianna Wilson with KOB-TV reported.
Watch or read Wilson's story here (no paywall): kob.com/new-mexico/90-storage-units-broken-into-in-ne-albuquerque/
Roadrunner population booming — Data shows the roadrunner population has nearly doubled since the 1960s. The highest numbers ever recorded were in 2015 and 2016, around the same time we had severe drought conditions. New Mexico’s state bird is even making its way to other parts of the country, as far Louisiana and Missouri, Alexa Skonieski of KRQE-TV reported.
Watch or read Skonieski's story here (no paywall): krqe.com/news/new-mexico/roadrunner-population-booming-is-booming-in-new-mexico/
I read that in Chile Street…
Nearly 133 years later after the Rawlins House in Las Vegas, NM, opened it's doors as a hotel, the historic building is once again welcoming guests.
The building once served as dormitory for "Harvey Girls," the women who worked at the nearby Castañeda Harvey House hotel, and now its renovated rooms are available to rent as short-term vacation rentals.
The public will even have a chance to tour the building this weekend.
The buildings owners, Tom and Tina Clayton, will host an open house Saturday, Sept. 10, from noon until 5 p.m. at Rawlins House — located at the corner of Railroad Avenue and E. Douglas Avenue in Las Vegas.
The event will feature tours of the historic property, talks by Kathy Hendricks with Southwest Detours, and live music from members of Los Tropicales. Some former Harvey Girls will even be there to talk about their time working for the famed Fred Harvey Company.
That’s it for now. Have a great weekend!
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Who’s responsible for Chile Street? The culprit is Ryan Lowery, a New Mexico journalist living in Albuquerque.