Visiting Las Cruces, New Mexico, is like going back in time. The colorful city exudes all the rugged character of a Southwestern cowpoke ciudad of yesteryear. Nestled in the fertile Mesilla Valley between the towering Organ Mountains and Rio Grande River, it’s easy to imagine vaqueros riding down dusty streets past century-old homes. With a population of just 95,000 Las Cruces is a small city, but it experiences all the modern problems of larger metropolitan centers.
Often called the Crossroads City because it is bisected by Interstates 10 and 25, its geographic location creates interesting challenges for the Las Cruces Police Department. I recently sat down to chat with Lieutenant Mark Nunley. “Our issue is that because we are so close to the El Paso-Juarez border…the amount of narcotics that goes through the city causes issues with our interdiction units and traffic stops. The interstates make it quick and easy for people to get in and get out. Most of the stuff that comes through town is heading north or east, although we’re finding out that because of cartel problems in Tijuana we’re starting to see stuff go west again.”
Nunley noted, “A couple years ago the LCPD made a seizure—a million dollar seizure—and after it worked its way through court we finally got our share. In fact, that was the money that we used to buy the JP rifles.”