Trump sends in agents as Albuquerque struggles with crime

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FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2019, file photo, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, left, stands with other federal and officials at a news conference at the office of the Bernalillo County Sheriff in Albuquerque, N.M. New Mexico's most populous city stands to lose out on millions of dollars in crime-fighting grants due to its status as a sanctuary city, but some elected officials said Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, the U.S. Justice Department is holding out the promise of more federal funding to get Albuquerque to reconsider policies that prevent the sharing of information with federal immigration authorities. The Justice Department has reached out to the Albuquerque Police Department about funds available under Operation Relentless Pursuit, the initiative announced in December by Attorney General William Barr to combat violent crime in seven of America's most violent cities. (AP Photo/Mary Hudetz, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – At the start of another summer weekend of bloodshed, Albuquerque police officers were called after midnight to a park where they found a screaming teenage girl beside her boyfriend's bullet-ridden body.

He had met with friends to ask them if he could buy a gun and pulled out a roll of cash. The friends, including two nicknamed “Gucci" and “Sleepy,” responded by opening fire and taking the money, according to a criminal complaint.

They're now facing charges in a city that is 10th in the nation for violent crime, ranks No. 2 for car thefts and has experienced a spike in homicides in recent years.

Local politicians have blamed the situation on problems ranging from a police officer shortage to the opioid epidemic. Others point to a justice system seen as having a revolving door that puts repeat offenders back on the street.

As President Donald Trump seeks re-election and tries to portray himself as being tough on crime, he included Albuquerque earlier this summer among the Democrat-led cities where he has dispatched more federal law enforcement agents to beef up local policing efforts.

Trump highlighted the slaying of Jacqueline Vigil, a mother of two New Mexico state police officers. The Albuquerque resident, who had fled violence in her home country of Colombia, was shot dead last year in her driveway as she prepared to leave for the gym.

With Vigil's two sons at his side last month, Trump railed against the leadership in cities like Albuquerque that he insisted “need help.”

“They need it badly. They should call. They should want it. They’re too proud or they’re too political to do that,” Trump said.