ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Federal prosecutors are looking for ways to better help address Albuquerque crime. Their first in a series of community discussions addressed issues in the International District.

At the meeting, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico Alexander M.M. Uballez met with community representatives to learn what they feel is driving issues in the area. Here’s what they had to say.

“I’ve seen how quickly and aggressively . . .  fentanyl took over and just it’s deteriorating these people out here, and it’s causing a lot of the violence,” Will Williams, a community coordinator from Vizionz-Sankofa, said. “If fentanyl isn’t made like a public health emergency, everything we’re talking about now is going to be ten times worse five years from now.”

Another community representative discussed longstanding issues related to trust within the Pan-Asian community, which has a large presence in the International District.

The “tension does not disappear,” Sachi Watase, executive director of the New Mexico Asian Family Center (NMAFC) said. Watase also expressed concern over how much federal law enforcement relies on NMAFC for translation and intelligence, but NMAFC still has to go through difficult grant processes. “It is too much for us to constantly have to . . . go through a competitive process when we’re the only ones who are doing this and [federal law enforcement] need us to do it,” Watase said. “We know that these [federal law enforcement] entities trust us and that we’re doing a good job because they’re the ones who are asking us to do this.”

A big takeaway: Solving issues in the International District won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take long-term investment.

“[I]t’ll take time . . . to get the trust of the community,” said Khadijah Asili Bottom, the founder of Vizionz-Sankofa. “So, I think that’s a cool thing to start having [conversations] and being visible at community functions.”

Next, the federal prosecutors will meet with other communities, like Westgate. The idea is to work with community partners to build trust and ensure that each community has intervention, prevention, and reentry programs to boost long-term crime reductions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.