ESTANCIA, N.M. (KRQE) - New Mexico sheriffs are learning just how prevalent Mexican drug cartels are in New Mexico, how they operate and the best way to deal with them.
The sheriffs recently took part in a conference near the U.S.-Mexico border to learn the cartels' place in our state.
A Drug Enforcement Administration bust on Jan. 26 in the metro area revealed the cartel is in fact here. Fifteen people were indicted in that case and several properties in Albuquerque, Edgewood, and McIntosh searched.
The most shocking arrest was that of Albuquerque firefighter Steve Chavez whom authorities said was selling drugs from the Sinaloa Cartel and moving the money through his bank accounts.
Torrance County Sheriff Heath White said he is exactly the type of person the cartels are looking for.
"It comes down to the almighty dollar," White said. "The cartels find people hard up for money, in a tight situation, and they entice them with money to either hold the drugs or do things for the cartels."
White said he and other authorities may never know the true extent of the cartel operations in New Mexico because their purpose here is not violence. Instead it is to move their drugs and remain undetected.
That means the cartels will likely remain quiet.
"They are not part of the crime we see everyday," White continued. "We don't have the security issues as far as kidnappings and killings because they want to keep off the radar."
During the border conference sheriff's learned that rural areas like Torrance County are most susceptible because it has major interstates but also back roads where drug smugglers may be able to transport their goods and hide.
White said federal agencies like the DEA are taking the lead in identifying and arresting suspects linked to the cartels, but local authorities need to know what to look for to identify them and respond.
Four and a half years after he went to prison, former state senate leader Manny Aragon is out.
A suspected meth kingpin the FBI thought might be hiding out in New Mexico has been captured.
The popular Capulin Snow Play Area near Sandia Peak will be closed for the second year in a row.
While the roads were looking clearer late Thursday afternoon in the Albuquerque area, they could get dangerous again as temperatures drop later in the evening.
New details were released Thursday in Albuquerque's latest police shooting.
The southeast part of the state is getting hit hard with winter weather.