Threats in Las Cruces

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andrew_m

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LAS CRUCES — Two anonymous extortion letters sent to city officials in Las Cruces, which threatened possible harm to residents, prompted law enforcement agencies to call an impromptu news conference Friday night to warn residents.

"Your city is in danger," said a portion of an unsigned letter.

A copy of the letter also was delivered Friday to the Las Cruces Sun-News, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was contacted. Lt. Randy Lara, spokesman for the Las Cruces Police Department said Friday's letter was the second sent to city officials in recent weeks.

The letter demanded a large sum of money and set a deadline for its delivery.

"The letter did communicate that if the city did not comply, Las Cruces residents will be shot at random," Lara said.

The letter was hand-written with an unusual style of printing. Police were reluctant to discuss the contents of the two letters, saying that disclosing details could jeopardize the investigation that has begun.

"City, state and federal law enforcement are taking this threat seriously," Lara said. "We're calling on the Las Cruces community to keep their families safe."

Lara said law enforcement agencies will be on heightened

alert for an indefinite period. With representatives from the Las Cruces Police Department, Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department, and New Mexico State Police standing alongside, Lara emphasized that residents should not panic and should continue to go about their business.

"We ask residents to continue with their regular day-to-day activities," Lara said. "But they should be on alert and report suspicious activities.

"We are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep citizens safe."

Lara said the decision to tell the public about the threat had been weighed against the possibility of unnecessarily alarming residents.

"It was an investigative decision," Lara said. "It has gotten to the point that it's more desirable that the public knows. `It's better to have 80,000 pairs of eyes on this person or persons."

Steve Ramirez can be reached at sramire
 

andrew_m

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Los Lunas, NM
10/30/2006 LAS CRUCES — An anonymous extortionist has resurfaced with another threat of violence if a large sum of money is not paid by city officials.

More than five weeks after an original deadline passed without incident, a letter was delivered to the Sun-News Monday.

In it, the writer appears to take credit for a recent shooting in the city and sets yet another deadline for a large sum of money to be paid or else "bodies will fall."

"You obviously didn't take us seriously," the letter states.

The letter is very similar to one received by city officials and the paper on Sept. 15. That was the second letter delivered to city officials.

Although random public shootings were threatened, the deadlines set in both letters passed without incident.

The second letter set a deadline of Sept. 22 and prompted city officials to hold an emergency press conference to inform the public of the threat. What followed was a week's worth of heightened anxiety, large mobilizations by local, state and federal law enforcement as well as hundreds of rumors and false shooting reports.
 
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