BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) –  Law enforcement officials in Valencia County have begun to crack down on illegal activity along ditch banks near the Rio Grande. Detective Ben Ben Lankasky with the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office says the biggest problem is people driving off-road vehicles along the ditch bank, sometimes even firing weapons.

“We were out all weekend talking with people helping to make sure that the area remained free of the off-highway vehicles. We’ve had reports of shots being fired of people that are on the ditch banks being shot at,” said Detective Lankasky. 

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Court records show on June 23, 75-year-old Henry Ingram shot two rounds from his shotgun in the direction of a 13-year-old boy riding his dirt bike along one of the ditch banks right behind Ingram’s property. In another altercation on June 27, 23-year-old Noah Herrera pulled out a handgun. After being confronted for speeding along the ditch bank.

Valencia County’s Sheriff’s Office and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District say while the use of the ditch banks is for MRGCD personnel, they don’t want to prevent people from walking out there. “People enjoy doing other things like walking, entering the bosque off of them. That is something MRGCD doesn’t want to prevent, but we have to stop the aggressive vehicular use of the district right of ways. that was really the type of activity we are concerned about. We recognize we can’t fence out and close down 1200 miles of the facility. It’s just impractical, but where we have to draw the line and try to find some balance is in the increased motor vehicle use and aggressive motor vehicle use,” said MRCGD Chief Engineer Jason Casuga.

The MRHGCD says they are looking to put up more signs with rules regarding off-road vehicles as well as putting up fencing wherever available. The Valencia county sheriff’s office says they are in talks about continuing patrols along the ditch banks to help keep things under control.