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Cartels Using Rural N.M. Counties, Sheriffs Warned

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ESTANCIA (AP) — Officials say smaller, rural New Mexico counties are becoming staging areas for Mexican drug cartels because of their major interstate highways and back roads.

KRQE-TV reports that New Mexico sheriffs recently heard about the increased cartel activities at a conference near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Torrance County Sheriff Heath White said authorities may never know the true extent of the cartel operations in New Mexico because their purpose here is not violence. Instead, he said Mexican drug cartels simply want to move their drugs and remain undetected.

Investigators fear that’s why the cartels here will likely remain quiet.

White said federal agencies like the federal agents are taking the lead in identifying and arresting suspects linked to the cartels, but local authorities also need to know how to identify them.

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