As focus turns to Jeffrey Epstein’s ranch, official says: “There is a story to be told in New Mexico”

New Mexico News

(CBS)- New Mexico’s commissioner of public lands said she’s on a mission for justice as details emerge about Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex abuse at his ranch in the state. In an exclusive interview, she revealed her office is fully cooperating with investigators and has turned over 400 pages of Epstein’s property records to investigators – documents that may contain names of his alleged co-conspirators.

As investigators begin to interview women who said they were abused at Epstein’s ranch, New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard told CBS News’ Mola Lenghi she hopes taking this step will inspire more alleged victims to come forward because “there is a story to be told in New Mexico.”

“To say that it was heart wrenching and sickening to see this man’s signature on state land office documents is an understatement,” Garcia Richard said.

Epstein’s compound, called Zorro Ranch, partially rests on land he leased from Garcia Richard’s office. As with his homes in New York, Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands, the convicted sex offender is alleged to have sexually abused young girls on the sprawling, nearly 10,000-acre property.

For Garcia Richard, it’s difficult to imagine what may have been happening on the New Mexico property.

“They name folks that were ranch managers, and so you just kind of wonder who knew what when at the time that these activities were taking place,” she said.

State property records newly obtained by CBS News show that in addition to a main house, Epstein’s property has a pool, firehouse, offices, a log cabin and guest house among other amenities. Garcia Richard said the property also features an airstrip, an antique railroad car and train tracks.

Epstein didn’t appear to have connections in New Mexico prior to purchasing Zorro Ranch. Asked what would draw him to the state, Garcia Richard said, “I think there’s a perception that people won’t ask questions … this case can really show the world that you can’t get away with things in New Mexico.”

Sources told CBS News that Epstein leaned on his political connections in New Mexico. Former Gov. Bill Richardson visited the Zorro Ranch at least once and is accused of sexual abuse there by at least one alleged Epstein victim. Richardson has denied any wrongdoing and declined our requests for an interview.

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