ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In recent years, law enforcement have increased their attention toward missing and murdered Indigenous persons throughout New Mexico. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice is assigning an assistant U.S. attorney to New Mexico to focus on the issue.

“This new program mobilizes the Justice Department’s resources to combat the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons, which has shattered the lives of victims, their families, and entire Tribal communities,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a press release.  “The Justice Department will continue to accelerate our efforts, in partnership with Tribes, to keep their communities safe and pursue justice for American Indian and Alaska Native families.”

Four other dedicated assistant U.S. attorneys will go to other regions around the country. Altogether, the program aims to help boost both prevention and response efforts related to missing and murdered Indigenous persons (MMIP).

“These new positions represent the Justice Department’s continuing commitment to addressing the MMIP crisis with urgency and all of the tools at our disposal,” Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in a press release. “MMIP prosecutors and coordinators will work with partners across jurisdictions and alongside the Tribal communities who have been most devastated by this epidemic.”

The program builds on a 2022 directive to boost public safety on Native lands. The attorneys and staff will help law enforcement with investigating unresolved cases, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.