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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors in New Mexico's busiest judicial district and the state Indian Affairs Department are teaming up to create a special investigative unit to focus on cases of missing and slain Native Americans. State Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo and Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez announced the memorandum of understanding Thursday to create the unit. The team within the district attorney's office will help a statewide task force with analysis, case investigations and interventions. Officials said New Mexico has the fifth-largest Native American population in the U.S. and the highest number of Indigenous people who have been killed or are missing in the country. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Democratic governor has signed legislation to redraw the state's three congressional districts and divide a conservative stronghold into multiple districts over the objections of Republicans. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday that the new congressional map gives a baseline for competitive federal elections without giving any party or candidate an unfair advantage. Republicans disagree, calling it a power grab by Democrats. Consultants to the Legislature say the new congressional map gives Democrats an advantage in all three districts to varying degrees. Republicans need a net gain of five seats in 2022 to take control of the U.S. House and effectively freeze President Joe Biden's agenda.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Time is of the essence for the Salvation Army in New Mexico now that the Grinch has thrown a wrench into the group's holiday toy program. A van loaded with $6,000 worth of toys set to be passed out to hundreds of children on Monday was stolen this week from a store parking lot in Farmington. Police say the investigation is ongoing, but the group is now hustling to replace the stolen toys before Monday. Lt. Christopher Rockwell with the Salvation Army Farmington Corps said the community already is stepping up with more donations.


Federal environmental officials have announced a $1 billion infusion to the Superfund program. The money comes from the infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden recently signed into law. It'll help officials tackle a backlog of highly polluted Superfund sites in 24 states. Nearly 50 toxic waste sites will be cleaned up, and ongoing work at dozens of others will get a funding boost. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan made the announcement Friday at a Superfund site in Philadelphia. He says most of the sites are in minority communities that have suffered disproportionately from contamination.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Emergency room technicians who are trained and experienced in drawing blood can draw blood for the purpose of a DWI investigation. The New Mexico Supreme Court made the determination in an opinion issued Thursday in a case that originated in San Juan County. Attorney General Hector Balderas said the decision codifies a common-sense notion and supports the Legislature's intent to allow for valid blood draws to be used as evidence in DWI investigations and prosecutions. State data shows there have been more than 100 fatalities resulting from alcohol-involved crashes so far this year. That's notably less than the previous two years.


NEW YORK (AP) — After 12 days of testimony over three weeks, jurors heard from the final witnesses in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial. The British socialite told the judge Friday she wouldn't testify because she was confident prosecutors hadn't proved their case. Closing arguments are now set for Monday in the trial, in which Maxwell is accused of helping the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse four teenage girls. The defense rested its case after a tight, two days of presenting witnesses who attested to Maxwell's character or said they hadn't witnessed any wrongdoing. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have issued a search warrant for Alec Baldwin's cell phone, saying it could hold evidence that might be helpful as they investigate a deadly shooting on a New Mexico film set. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded in the Oct. 21 shooting on the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set near Santa Fe. Baldwin was holding the gun during rehearsal when it fired. He has maintained that he didn't pull the trigger, only that he had cocked the hammer. Authorities have been trying to determine where the live rounds found on the set came from. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An arrest warrant has been issued for a Belen man in the hit-and-run death of a 7-year-boy struck by an off-road vehicle as his family crossed a street after a holiday event at the Albuquerque BioPark. Police said Sergio Almanza was not at his home Thursday and he's now considered a fugitive. Police say multiple tips and witness statements led investigators to Almanza, who is suspected of running a red light Sunday and striking Pronoy Bhattacharya. Almanza is accused of homicide by vehicle, great bodily harm, leaving the scene of an accident with great bodily harm, and tampering with evidence.