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New Mexico State Police have arrested nearly 100 people on felonies – including a Farmington drive-by shooting suspect and federal fugitive – during the agency’s ongoing operation combatting crime in Bernalillo County.
Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office, said officers have made 93 felony and 67 misdemeanor arrests since mid-August. He said 58 of those arrested on felonies were people with “violent criminal histories.”
During the operation, State Police have also recovered 13 stolen vehicles, made 21 DWI arrests, seized drugs – including methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl – in 15 incidents and confiscated six guns.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement that the operation has “made a real difference” in combating crime in the Albuquerque area.
“This targeted effort has brought in dozens of offenders with violent criminal histories, and that is and must continue to be our North Star in combating crime in our state: Keeping as many of the worst of the worst off our streets as we possibly can,” she said.
Going forward, Lujan Grisham said she will support hiring 1,000 new officers statewide and bail reform changes to fight crime.
Stelnicki said the operation will end a week after the State Fair wraps up on Sept. 19.
The operation involves 35 officers, 25 of whom were already working in and around Albuquerque, and has similarities to the controversial “Metro Surge Operation” in the summer of 2019.
That operation had 50 State Police officers from around the state target specific Albuquerque neighborhoods to fight violent crime. The end result was 14,674 traffic stops and 738 arrests at a price tag of around $1 million.
A Journal analysis found that roughly 50% of a sample of cases were dismissed for various reasons, including lack of follow-through by officers and shortcomings in their investigations.
Those results, coupled with accusations of over-policing and shootings involving State Police officers during the operation, led some local leaders and advocacy groups to criticize the effort.