SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The State Land Commissioner has ended the grazing deal with Jeffrey Epstein’s “Zorro Ranch.” Epstein is accused of abusing underage girls.
“We are officially canceling the leases with Zorro Ranch and Cyprus Inc.,” said State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. “I would never sign any lease agreements or contracts with such individuals as Jeffery Epstein or any of his co-conspirators.”
Back in July, Epstein was charged with sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls. His ties to New Mexico are unnerving. Since 1993, he leased two parcels of State Trust land, which is part of his sprawling 10,000-acre New Mexico compound dubbed “Zorro Ranch.” The compound is about 60 miles south of Santa Fe.
Allegations first surfaced in 2007, so why didn’t the state step in then? The State Land Office said it didn’t even know about Epstein’s contracts until he was arrested this July.
“I can only speak for myself,” said Garcia Richard. “You’ll have to go back to when the last lease was renewed in 2017, which was a former administrator.”
Garcia Richard has only held the position since January, so KRQE News 13 tried to get a hold of the people who were in charge the past decade: Gary King, the former Attorney General; Patrick Lyons, the former Land Commissioner; and Aubrey Dunn, another former Land Commissioner. KRQE News 13 called all of them Wednesday, but no one picked up.
Now, the State Land Office hopes to turn the leased land over to a local rancher.
“We’ve got thousands of ranching families in New Mexico who have a bonafide desire to lease land for ranching purposes,” said Garcia Richard.
Garcia Richard said repeated attempts by her office to access two parcels of land were ignored. She said she was personally denied access last week, allowing Wednesday’s action.
Garcia Richard says her office is considering using one parcel of land to create a memorial for girls who were assaulted on the ranch.
Epstein signed a grazing contract with the State Land Office — that’s how he got the State Trust Land. However, there is no requirement to use the land for grazing.
Even though Epstein committed suicide, the Attorney General’s Office is still investigating whether he abused girls at his Zorro Ranch.