State police unit helping Albuquerque fight violent crime makes 93 felony arrests

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Sep. 16—State officials are lauding early results of an ongoing operation by New Mexico State Police to battle violent crime in Bernalillo County.

State police reported 93 felony arrests in the effort, including 58 of suspects with violent criminal histories. In addition, arrests were made on crimes ranging from DWI to narcotics to firearms, according to a news release from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

In all, officers have recorded 160 arrests.

The operation featured the temporary assignment of 35 state police agents from various bureaus to target violent crime in the Albuquerque metropolitan area and Bernalillo County. It began Aug. 17 and is expected to extend for one additional week following the closure of the New Mexico State Fair on Sunday.

"By arresting violent fugitives who were wanted on charges including aggravated assault, armed robbery, and drug distribution, we not only take repeat offenders off the street, but we are also able to derive valuable intelligence that help solve additional crimes and take down larger criminal operations in the area," state police Chief Tim Johnson said in the release.

The Governor's Office pointed to arrests of suspects such as Darrien Mells, accused of first-degree murder in the shooting of a man at a Chevron gas station after an argument. Other cited successes included the arrests of suspects reportedly involved in a San Juan County drive-by shooting, a driver found with 300 fentanyl pills and finding a suspect facing federal charges for weapons and ammunitions infractions, according to the release.

The tactical operation in Albuquerque follows the outline set by similar efforts between state police and local agencies in other parts of the state, including Valencia and McKinley counties.

Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the Governor's Office, said Lujan Grisham is committed to addressing violent crime in a multi-pronged way that involves the justice system and other key agencies.

"The governor believes addressing violent crime requires an entire criminal justice system — from cities and counties to beat cops and courts — working together to find and arrest and bring to justice violent offenders," Stelnicki wrote in an email Wednesday.

When asked if the operation was expected to have a lasting impact on violent crime, Lauren Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney's Office in Albuquerque, said it is too soon to tell from whether these arrests will lead to convictions. She added, state police made more arrests in the area than in an average three-week period.