New Mexico officials are in the process of canceling state land leases for the Zorro Ranch owned by accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, the state's land commissioner told Fox News on Friday.
The ranch, which is nearly 10,000 acres, is a mix of private and state-owned lands. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas found Epstein, who killed himself while in federal custody awaiting trial on sex crimes charges, improperly leased the land from the state. A cancelation on that sale is in the works.
"Having fully reviewed the referral from the State Land Commissioner in connection with my office’s investigation into criminal conduct related to Jeffrey Epstein in New Mexico, I am issuing a determination that the State Land Commissioner should immediately retake State trust lands and cancel leases that were improperly given to him," Balderas said in a statement. "The original leases to Epstein appear to have no beneficial use justification to the State, but rather appear to simply have been taken by him to increase privacy and the landmass surrounding his estate. This sweetheart deal must be canceled and reassigned to a New Mexico ranching family."
Taking back parcels of state-owned land could make it easier to search the estate – the only one of Epstein properties that has not yet been raided by authorities. Some of Epstein’s accusers have said they were assaulted at the ranch.
“Our desire to cancel these leases is because we don't want to conduct business with Epstein or his companies,” a statement from the New Mexico State Land Office said. “The existence of these leases wouldn't prevent law enforcement agency from raiding the house.”
The leases date back to 1993 and were officially granted to Epstein’s holding company, Cypress Inc., in 1997. But Cypress indicated the property would be used for livestock grazing, and since the ranch wasn’t used for that purpose, the NMSLO says Epstein’s company is in violation.
Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia said Epstein’s ranch was also obstructing official access to state trust land, which set the cancelation in motion.
“The rising number of allegations from survivors saying they were trafficked to the Zorro Ranch is reason enough for us to rip these leases in half and seize back this public land,” Garcia said in a statement.
Epstein committed suicide early on Aug. 10 while behind bars at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, creating instant controversy as to how such a high-profile prisoner was able to kill himself -- especially in the wake of an alleged suicide attempt just a little more than two weeks before.
The convicted sex offender -- who entered a controversial plea deal in Florida in 2008 over charges of assault on a minor-- was again arrested by the FBI on July 6 in New York on allegations of operating an underage child sex trafficking ring. He was remanded to the MCC and denied bail.
According to a New York Times report in the wake of his death, Epstein intended to use the $17 million New Mexico property to impregnate scores of females, in a quest to “seed the human race with his DNA.” While registries have been set up to determine if he did indeed procreate, no evidence of any Epstein offspring has been discovered.
Nonetheless, Epstein started spending more and more time at the stately New Mexico abode after his 2008 conviction -- perhaps an easy choice given that it was the only state where he was not required to register as a sex offender.
Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this report.