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Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
The Albuquerque Police Department released a list of the 15 most wanted suspects on Thursday, and authorities already have an arrest under their belt.
It just so happens that arrest was 10 days ago.
Edward Laird, 54, was booked into the Santa Fe County jail Dec. 2. on warrants related to property crime cases.
Mark Torres, the supervising special agent with the Office of Superintendent of Insurance, said Laird’s warrant hadn’t cleared from the system immediately. So when APD asked his office for a list of offenders to include in the city’s new Metro 15 initiative – targeting 15 violent suspects with outstanding warrants – Laird’s name was submitted. Torres said the prosecutor trying the case was recently hired and didn’t notify him that Laird had been arrested.
“We’re trying to get our prosecutors … to communicate better,” Torres said. “We’ve had to refine some things internally just based on today.”
APD did not say what charges those on the list face. But according to court documents, they appear to be wanted on warrants stemming from a range of charges, including shooting at or from a motor vehicle, armed robbery and drug possession. Two didn’t appear for arraignments. Another suspect cut off a GPS monitor and never showed up to court.
One pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in 2002 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released and has since violated probation multiple times, according to court documents.
The list was released on Twitter and Facebook on Thursday morning. The public is encouraged to call the Crime Stoppers hotline if they know where the suspects can be found.
Cmdr. Mizel Garcia of the newly created Violence Intervention Division said the suspects are considered “drivers of violence” who have a connection to guns and gun crimes.
“I gave the example of, for instance, the burglar who is breaking into homes … specifically targeting weapons and in turn selling them to either other known offenders, violent offenders and potentially gang members,” Garcia said in an interview. “This is a driver of violence, because he’s providing these weapons. Plus, the subject himself has a background of crimes against our community.”
The 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office contributed 10 names to the initiative.
“To identify individuals for the list, our office reviewed defendants with a violent history who had active warrants and a viable open case,” Adolfo Mendez, the chief of policy and planning with the DA’s Office, wrote in an email. “A primary consideration was whether our office had previously moved to detain the individual. We subjected each warrant to a vetting process to verify the status of the warrant and evaluated the strength of the available evidence.”
Three defendants, including Laird, were submitted by OSI.
“It’s prosecution led, the subjects have been identified and presented to us by the District Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, OSI,” Garcia said. “This isn’t an APD list; this is a collaborative list. The only link that we have is they all reside in and they all have committed crimes in the metro area.”
At a news conference late last month, APD Chief Michael Geier said officers will be tracking down the Metro 15 by visiting their addresses and former addresses, knocking on doors and talking to friends and relatives.
Garcia, however, stressed that what makes this initiative unique is the reliance on Crime Stoppers for anonymous tips. He said members of his division, officers in the field and detectives will make arrests as tips come in.
“The uniqueness is that the vessel, the glue, is Crime Stoppers,” he said. “Our community has a direct input now into assisting both law enforcement and prosecutors on focusing and holding accountable these identified drivers of violence.”
In fact, it was through an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip that authorities learned that Laird was already locked up in Santa Fe County.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of these suspects is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (505) 843-STOP