Less than a day after we went to press with this week’s feature profiling the Reese family of Deming and their trial for conspiracy, false statements and gun smuggling, the jury returned with a verdict.
Three of the family members were found guilty of making false statements on federal ATF forms. U.S. government prosecutors insisted throughout the trial that the Reeses knowingly sold weapons to so-called straw buyers, or middlemen, who were purchasing guns on behalf of dangerous Mexican drug cartels. Apparently the jury agreed, to a limited extent.
Yet with the possible exception of 20-year-old Remington (acquitted of all charges), it’s still hard to find the clear winner in this case.
The Reeses’ lives will certainly never be the same. Three of them are now convicted felons facing more jail time. While they may be able to petition for the restoration of their gun ownership rights, I doubt the ATF (which launched the undercover investigation of the family) will let them return to their longtime livelihoods of gun dealing.
The agency itself has been raked over the coals for losing track of guns that were purchased out of Arizona by known “straw buyers,” or middlemen. Many of those guns were subsequently trafficked into Mexico and used to deadly effect.
And the trial opened on the heels of a successful (and largely partisan) effort to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over Operation Fast and Furious. Supporters of the family that I spoke to outside of the courtroom were convinced that the U.S. government was trying to use the case to deflect attention away from their own malfeasance.
It wasn’t a good idea. We knew that at the time, but I guess we thought we would get away with it.
On March 23, 2011, Mike Smith and I took the bus down Central through Albuquerque’s neon-lit Downtown. We were headed toward the Anasazi building. At nine stories tall, it towered over other buildings on the block, and its pueblo-influenced, multitier design gave its dark, empty windows romantic intrigue. Could we get in? What was inside? What would it be like to be one of the few people who had looked out of those lofty windows?
Near the very top of its eastern face, there was a tantalizing sign that entry was possible: A graffiti rainbow coursed from the rooftop down the bare side. If that artist could get in, so could we. We didn’t think about what would happen if we got caught; we just wanted to see it from the inside.
We've all heard the gloomy scenarios of global warming: extreme weather, drought, famine, breakdown of society, destruction of civilization. Here in New Mexico it feels like we’ve made the switch from esoteric to actual, from computer model to daily life. My perch in Placitas feels like a front-row seat to the apocalypse. Smoke is in the air. Neighbors are fighting over water. Some of my outdoor flower pots have melted in the heat. Wild animals are getting thirsty, hungry and bold. It turns out, this might just be the new normal for the American Southwest.
Sometimes journalism is difficult because the sources aren't forthcoming or polished speakers, requiring extra effort to tease compelling morsels out of interview material. This week’s cover story was difficult for the opposite reason: Every single person I contacted was articulate, knowledgable, insightful and well-spoken. Their statements were thought-provoking and their stories inspiring. Lissa, a member of the Transgender Resource Center's youth group was no exception, though what she shared with me didn't make it into the print edition.
“Like most transgender people, I've known that I was trans for a really long time,” she told me.
In 8th grade, after confessing in confidence to one of her best friends that she was trans, he outed her to the entire school. Coming out to her mother wasn't any easier.
“I was really suicidal for a time, and my mom walked in on what was my second attempt. My first was when I was little, but I chickened out, thankfully.” Lissa said her mother still struggles to accept who she really is, but “she's of the mindset that it's better to have another daughter than a dead son. It's not accepting, but it's at least tolerant.”
Lissa's journey through adolescence has been eased somewhat by a doctor's prescription for testosterone blockers, an active Gay-Straight Alliance group at school and a supportive group of friends. She's also found an outlet on YouTube where she posts videos aimed at other young people struggling to reconcile their gender identity.
When I told Lissa that she and other youth group members seemed much so much more mature than their age, she theorized that it comes with the territory of their experiences.
“You're making very mature decisions about your life. You grow up really fast, and you grow up hiding because from a very young age you know something's different and you're going to be hated for it.”
For the feature in the May 30 issue, I explored the adaptive reuse of a city-owned Route 66 motel in Upper Nob Hill. Read about why it’s a landmark, and how it’s being preserved here: The comeback of the De Anza Motor Lodge. Ty Bannerman supplemented the piece by writing about El Vado, another city-owned motel further down Route 66.
If you’re planning to vote absentee, the county clerk recommends you request your application by tomorrow, May 31. You can print an application at bernco.gov/clerk. You'll need to mail or hand-deliver the application within 48 hours of signing and dating it.
Or call the county clerk at 243-VOTE (8683) and provide the following info:
• Your name, as stated on your voter registration card
• Your full address where you’re registered to vote
• Your date of birth or voter registration number
• The address you want your ballot mailed to (if it’s different than the address where you’re registered to vote)
The deadline to turn in the completed application is Friday, June 1, at 7 p.m. You can-hand deliver it to the Clerk’s Office (sixth floor of One Civic Plaza NW) on Election Day if you forget to mail it out.
Don’t know much about the candidates? Read our Primary Election Guide
Everybody knows it’s cooler in the mountains, so get out and explore them already. You don't need climbing gear or a Sherpa to scale tall peaks—just a thirst for adventure and, perhaps, a beer or two. Here are a few of my picks for an elevated summer.
The Earth Day Network reports that 1 billion people marked the eco-holiday on April 22. But with consciousness-
For the eco warriors profiled in this week’s feature, the work is hard, the hours long and unpaid. It’s about attending meetings, learning how to speak up in public, keeping track of paperwork, forging alliances with neighbors. It involves concerted, long-term effort in the face of what often looks like an uphill battle.
Al Hurricane and ¡Ask a Mexican! columnist Gustavo Arellano will perform mañana at the beautiful North Valley spot. This week, the Alibi’s food critic talks taco shop with Arellano, who’s written a book about how the humble food has overtaken the U.S.
Buy your tickets to the event in advance—and for half price!—at alibi.com/tacousa.
In this week’s feature we unveiled the the winners of the Alibi’s ninth annual Photo Contest. But there were a bunch of great shots that didn’t make it to print. The above slideshow includes nearly 300 submissions that were added to our Flickr pool. Have any favorites that didn’t get published? Comment below and let us know.