Echoing complaints made by authorities in other border towns, law enforcement authorities say that Mexico drug cartels are a growing force in northern New Mexico.
The Farmington Daily Times reports that Region II Narcotics Task Force Director Neil Haws says the Juárez cartel has been operating for two years in San Juan County, for example, but that the Sinaloa and Michoacán cartels also have gained ground.
Haws recently told Bloomfield city councilors that members of cartels live in the area with their families and recruit local gang members to sell their drugs to avoid detection.
Haws said cartel members find it easy to import the drugs, mainly meth, via wide-open New Mexico roads and reservation lands.
Farmington officials and the San Juan County Sheriff's Office have been lobbying for a federal magistrate for the area.
Earlier this month, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said that Mexico’s drug gang violence has become a crime issue in the Lone Star state, and he has sent a request to President Obama to bolster security along the U.S.-Mexican border that runs along the state.
Abbott said the matter had gained more urgency after a shooting between cartel operatives and Texas law enforcement that resulted in a deputy sheriff being shot three times.
Abbott, who is Republican, said in his letter to Obama that violence increasingly has been spilling over from Mexico into Texas. He cited a January incident in which highway workers repairing a road close to a drug-smuggling area “were fired upon from the southern side of the border.”
And in October, an official with the Texas Department of Public Safety warned that cartels attempting to recruit students finding them in Texas schools. Six of the seven Mexican cartels have established command and control networks in Texas, the official said.
In September, two Texas teens were lured to Mexico, where they were kidnapped, beaten, ransomed and released in a remote area along the Rio Grande River. Within the past year, more than 25 juveniles have been arrested for drug trafficking in one Texas border county alone.
This story contains material from The Associated Press.