Private New Mexico land littered with shotgun shells, trash

Danger looms on land

Rio Puerco

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – There is a real threat on land just west of Albuquerque.

“The drinking and the shooting fist of all is a little bit of a scary scenario,” Diana Fraiser said.

Cerro Colorado Hill
Cerro Colorado Hill

Fraiser has seen it first hand. She is one of many people who own land in the Rio Puerco.

The undeveloped land sits between the Route 66 Casino and the Albuquerque jail on the west mesa, south of Interstate 40. It is the former Atrisco Land Grant.

Fraiser and six other investors own 50 of those acres. Her family has owned the land since the mid 1970’s.

The land is covered in wildflowers, sits at the base of the Cerro Colorado Hill and has panoramic views.

“It’s incredible, you can see to Grants,” Fraiser said.

A dry arroyo runs through the land and that’s where the danger hides.

“Broken glass and shotgun shells and lord knows what else is out here,” Fraiser said.

Over the years, thousands of people have illegally trespassed on her land to shoot guns and target practice on whatever they can shoot up. That includes mattresses, metal signs and TVs.

“The old TVs, that’s an issue because that’s toxic,” Fraiser said.

As Fraiser talked about people trampling on her land, gunshots could be heard echoing from shooters about 200 yards away. There are piles and piles of shell casings scattered throughout her 50 acres.

“When I tell people I’m ankle deep in shot-gun shells, I’m not exaggerating,” she said.

Fraiser believes people who tread on her land think it’s public land. Although no matter who owns the land, it’s illegal to fire guns on it.

“It is illegal to shoot in Bernalillo county unless you are at an approved range,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Justin Dunlap.

Frasier chases people away who come on her property. On the day she showed KRQE News 13 her land, she approached a couple in an SUV.

“A lot of people are under the misconception that this is open space or BLM land, she told them.”Have you known that?” The driver acknowledged that. “Yeah. We just came to check out the mountain,” he said.

Another person who trespassed on the land in a pickup truck said he was just collecting recycling items from the area.

Frasier was skeptical of both drivers. She says she’s called the sheriff’s department at least a half-dozen times this year to chase people away. According to Frasier, deputies have only responded once.

Capt. Dunlap said his deputies handle calls based on priority and the calls on her land have not been a high priority.

“Sometimes people see us and leave others don’t,” he said. “There’s a fair amount of people who just don’t know what they’re doing out there is against the law.”

On Jan. 1, 2013, officers swarmed the area when a stray bullet came through a car windshield and grazed Jessy Blanco’s thigh near 9 Mile Hill along I-40. It’s suspected the bullet may have come from the Rio Puerco where people shoot guns. The land runs next to I-40.

Frasier said she’s posted “no trespassing” signs before but they’ve been shot-up or stolen. She and her investors would eventually like to sell the land but that probably won’t happen in the condition it’s in.

Potential buyers backed out of a deal for her neighbor’s land after hearing the gun fire and seeing all the litter.

The only option to keep people off Fraiser’s property is to put up a fence like one of her neighbor’s did. It’s worked to keep people off their land, but now it’s just funneled more people onto Fraiser’s land.

Sec. 54-31 – Discharge of firearms prohibited; exceptions; penalty for violation of section.
It is unlawful for any person to discharge any firearm in the county. This section does not prohibit discharge of a firearm by:

  • Peace officers engaged in the performance of their official duties
  • Members of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard when such members are engaged in the performance of their official duties.
  • Persons exercising their rights of defense of self, property or others.
  • A person in attendance at an authorized hunter’s safety course or an authorized handgun safety course.
  • A person engaging in the use of a firearm for target shooting at an established range authorized by the governing body.
  • A person engaging in organized competition authorized by the local governing body.
  • A person pursuing legal hunting or trapping activities.

Upon conviction of a violation of this section, the weapon or firearm shall be forfeited to the sheriff’s department by order of the court.

(Ord. No. 297, §§ 1, 2, 6-3-75; Ord. No. 79-67, § 6(A), 12-4-79; Ord. No. 83-1, §§ 1, 2, 1-4-83; Ord. No. 88-9, §§ 7(B)(1), (G), 8(B), 2-23-88; Ord. No. 97-20, 11-18-97)
State Law reference— Weapons generally, N

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