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Duke City residents have been feeling the pain at the pump recently, but customers fueling up at one Albuquerque gas station are paying nearly $7 a gallon – prompting recent action from a state official.
High prices at M&M Stores, on Yale north of Gibson near the Albuquerque International Sunport, led state Rep. Miguel García, D-Albuquerque, to file a price-gouging complaint with the city’s Office of Consumer Protection on Monday. García said he filed the complaint after seeing a television station report on prices at the store.
Regular unleaded at the gas station was going for $6.83 per gallon Wednesday.
Albuquerque on Wednesday had an average gas price of $4.286 for regular unleaded, according to AAA. That average price is the highest recorded in the city.
“The Oil and Gas Industry has been arbitrary, avarice, and capricious in their lust for greedy profits at the expense of the deterioration of the quality of life of New Mexico consumers,” García said in a statement.
New Mexico Secretary of State records list the director of the gas station – with an entity name of M&M Stores Inc. – as Murad Hijazi. An employee working at the gas station this week confirmed Hijazi is the store’s owner.
Hijazi, when reached by phone Wednesday, declined to comment on the complaint filed against his business and his store’s prices.
According to García’s complaint, the lawmaker noticed pumps advertised prices of $6.99 for medium and premium octane.
García filed the complaint Monday “in accordance with and in violation of the Albuquerque Emergency Anti-Price Gouging Ordinance,” according to the document he sent to the city’s Office of Consumer Protection.
The ordinance García is referencing was passed and adopted by city councilors on June 15, 2020 – just a few months after the pandemic began.
The ordinance states that price gouging is “a price of more than 20% greater than the price charged by that person for those goods or services immediately prior to the first declaration of emergency.” Mayor Tim Keller on May 12 extended the declaration of local emergency.
An employee with the Office of Consumer Protection confirmed that the anti-price gouging ordinance is still in effect.
“There might be other price gouging gasoline operators in the City of Albuquerque that are in violation of the 20% rule and its exceptions, but it will take the efforts of the general public in bringing them to justice by filing a similar complaint as I have done,” García said.