Contaminated dirt leads to conspiracy theories in Torrance County

New Mexico News

TORRANCE COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – Conspiracy theories were surfacing during a fight over a failed road project in Torrance County. Piles and piles of dirt ended up on a street where a former sheriff lives.

Crews dumped truck-fulls of dirt along County Road A-180 last Monday after a neighbor requested a ditch along the road to be filled. Metal and sharp objects were left behind instead. Some people even said they spotted used condoms and rusty fence nails.

This happened on the road where former Sheriff Heath White lives. Some people thought the act was a retaliation against him. White is facing several charges including embezzlement, set to be heard in district court next week.

Some county employees are being called to testify on behalf of the state. County Manager Wayne Johnson said the claim that this act was intentional or in any way related to White is baseless.

“In this case, it would seem like a very long stretch to try to say that our road department was retaliating against the sheriff for something that never involved him,” Johnson said. “It kind of stretches the bounds of credibility as far as listening to that accusation.”

The county returned later in the week and replaced all the dirt, but it got so heated at one point that State Police were called, and a county employee was handcuffed temporarily for failing to produce a license.

Johnson said they have never received a complaint like this before in the county. The county said they do screen all of the dirt before it is laid, but that some other items can be mixed in and overlooked at times.

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