Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Columbus Abolishes Its Police Department

By: Cesar Rodriguez
Columbus, N.M., Police Chief Angelo Vega, shown here, along with the mayor and a town trustee were arrested by federal agents on drug and weapons charges. The tiny border community is known for its attack by Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa nearly a century ago.

The City of Columbus, N.M. is in bad shape.

It's $600,000 in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy.

The financial problems come on the heels of the arrest of the town's mayor, a trustee and the police chief -- all accused on drug and weapons charges in March.

The newly-appointed mayor, Nicole Lawson, told ABC-7 Columbus only has $62,000 in the bank. The police department alone costs the village about $300,000 per year.

Lawson said she had no choice but to abolish the police department and fire city employees.

"I think the individuals are punished for someone's mistakes. This is their livelihood," said Lawson. "We're not saying they did something wrong. We don't have money to pay them."

Lawson said she had to make tough decisions fast in order to save the entire village.

"We were told if we didn't make changes in a month we would be bankrupt and lose our incorporation as municipality."

The new administration has also abolished Columbus' Code Enforcement and Animal Control departments, and eliminated a dozen city jobs.

Lawson said the village is suffering from the mistakes of the previous administration.

"It's obvious the way it was done didn't work. The CPAs are going to help us establish who dropped the ball, when (and) who was responsible."

Rosie Zamora, one of the three officers laid off, blamed corruption for the problems.

"Chief (Angelo) Vega was using the money illegally. Now it's going to take a miracle for government to trust Columbus," she said.

"It's going to take a lot to mend those feelings," Mayor Lawson agreed.

Vega is in jail without bond, indicted in a weapons smuggling scheme. Also indicted were former Columbus mayor Eddie Espinoza and former village trustee Blas Gutierrez.

All have pleaded not guilty.

Lawson said for now, the village will depend on the Luna County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement, as there is already a full-time deputy and three reserves who live in Columbus.


  1. Same story different town, sorry for the towns workers,
    Nothing changes if nothing changes.

  2. Were all the assets of the previous Mayor and his cronies seized?? If he has a house, car or even a trailer take it all. Seize his savings account and look into the funds of any family members who were employed.

  3. It's like the wild west all over again.

  4. Old Mexico politics comes to New Mexico, Mexican Americans, acting like Mexican Mexicans.

  5. #9:39 your comment is because white politicans have never been corrupt or haven't ran this country to the ground. Never realized white people dont steal, lol moron

  6. Stop going after the small fish and go after the BiGGer fish (NRA & ATF). Those are the scumbaggs Obama & the FEDS should be going after, after all they're the ones supplying the Drug Cartels with weapons.

  7. Former New Mexico mayor admits role in gun trafficking conspiracy
    July 14, 2011 at 3:32 AM by AHN · Leave a Comment

    Kris Alingod – AHN News Contributor
    Columbus, NM, United States (AHN) – The former mayor of a community along the border in New Mexico has pleaded guilty to smuggling weapons for drug cartels.

    Eddie Espinoza, 51, entered an agreement with prosecutors admitting his role in a gun trafficking ring that included the then-police chief, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the western district of Texas announced on Wednesday.

    Espinoza, who resigned as mayor of Columbus in May after being paid by his community’s board of trustees, admitted to one count of conspiracy, three counts of lying in the acquisition of weapons, and three counts of smuggling firearms from the United States.

    He faces 10 years in prison for every count of smuggling and five years for the other charges. No sentencing date has been set.

    Espinoza was among 11 people indicted in March on charges that they served as “straw purchasers” for drug cartels and bought guns from licensed dealers by saying the weapons were for themselves.

    According to prosecutors, beginning January 2010, he and his co-defendants bought 200 firearms favored by the cartels, including AK-47-type rifles but with shorter barrels and no rear stocks, and American Tactical 9mm caliber pistols.

    Espinoza was at the time mayor of his community located across the border from the Mexican city of Puerto Palomas. His alleged cohorts included then-police chief Angelo Vega and former village trustee Blas Gutierrez. They were arrested in a massive raid early this year that included a search of the Columbus Police Department.

    Nearly three dozen AK-47 type pistols, magazines and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized and prevented from being smuggled across the border. Federal authorities have recovered 12 firearms trafficked by the group into Mexico, where more than 30,000 people have died from the war among drug cartels since 2006

  8. That raid happened back in March 2011. This is just the inditement. This is the Mexification of our U.S Law Enforcment. Its a SHAME that these Law Enforcement Oficers who have sworn to protect and defend the good people of Columbus are in the Pockets of the Cartels.

    Send them to Sheriff Joe Arpaios Jail!

  9. "Stop going after the small fish and go after the BiGGer fish (NRA & ATF). Those are the scumbaggs Obama & the FEDS should be going after, after all they're the ones supplying the Drug Cartels with weapons."

    Are you seriously that stupid to think the NRA would send weapons to anyone? The ATF is RUN by Eric Holder and the White House.

  10. Did that guy say white people don't steal? Wow how dumb could he be.

  11. The ATF IS supplying the cartels with their weapons. If you do some research and stop being so naive you'd realize it.

  12. corruption is everywhere. what is a goddamn shame is the three involved here are hispanics...VEGA, ESPINOSA, GUTIERREZ...plain and simple it could of happened to anybody greed is the main drive here and greed is not racist it lives in all nationalities. yes a white politician may have been less likely to have bedded down with the cartels. i believe that the cartels will target hispanic politicians in the us bordertowns because one is likely to "roll" with his own race.


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