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Las Cruces is the second largest city in New Mexico. According to the 2010 Census the population is 97,618. It is part of the United States Southwest. Las Cruces is located in the center of Mesilla Valley which is the agricultural region on the flood plains of the Rio Grande. The Dona Ana Mountains, the Organ Mountains, Robledo Mountains and Picacho Peak all make up the landscape of the city. The climate is considered arid subtropical with very hot summers with many days over one hundred degrees and winters that are cool and windy with sunny periods in between.
The city averages 350 days of sunshine annually. The economy in Las Cruces is largely supported by the government. The White Sands Test Facility and White Sands Missile Range are the largest employers in the city. The motto of the city is “People helping People”. Nicknames for Las Cruces include “The City of Crosses” and the “Crossroads”. The name Las Cruces is believed to be derived from the Spanish word meaning the crosses. Las Cruces was originally the home of the Manso people and then it was colonized by the Spanish in 1598 when Juan de Ornate claimed the land in the name of New Spain.
It was established as part of the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Las Cruces was named AARP’s 2010 “Best Places to Retire” and AARP’s “Dream Town” in 2006. It is a vey popular retirement location due to the sunny weather, small town feel, friendly atmosphere and it’s abundance of golf courses. Las Cruces is also a very popular tourism location. Tourist attractions include White Sands National Monument, Spaceport America, Historic Mesilla, The Border Book Festival, and the Whole Enchilada Festival which is the most popular festival in southern New Mexico. Las Cruces holds the world records for “The World’s Largest Enchilada” and “The World’s Biggest Tamale”. Although Las Cruces has many positive attributes its closeness to the international border also makes it a hotbed for drug trafficking.
Drug Trafficking in Las Cruces, New Mexico
The close proximity to the international border and the interstate borders makes Las Cruces an ideal location for drug trafficking. Many drugs travel into the city from Mexico and are disbursed throughout the city and into bordering cities and states. Drugs pass through Las Cruces in route to the Southwest, Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. The most common type of heroin found in Las Cruces is Mexican black tar heroin and then Mexican brown powdered heroin. It is believed that the majority of the heroin that enters the city is brought in by Mexican criminal groups. It is generally transported by private and commercial vehicles, pedestrians and through the mail. The rate of heroin related violence is not high but street gangs who are known to distribute heroin are also known for committing violent crimes. These crimes include homicide, home invasion, drive by shootings, and car jackings. Many robberies and burglaries are also linked to heroin abusers trying to support their heroin addiction. Heroin abuse is a growing concern for Las Cruces residents because the drug is readily available throughout the city and there is a high rate of abuse among adolescents and a high rate of heroin related deaths in the city.
Heroin is also referred to as dope, H, smack, shot, junk, and horse. It is a semi-synthetic opiod drug that is derived from the poppy plant. It has come to be known as the most dangerous drug in the world because it is extremely addictive and there is a very high rate of heroin related deaths. Heroin can be ingested by snorting or smoking it but is most commonly ingested through injection. The effects of heroin include euphoria, slowed mental function, periods of wakefulness and drowsiness, slurred speech and heavy extremities. Heroin is physically addictive and when use of the drug is stopped or decreases users generally experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include body aches, chills, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps, tremors, insomnia, and the intense and compulsive urge to use heroin again. In rare cases withdrawal can even be fatal.