Farmington Men Arraigned on Federal Charges for Allegedly Dumping Residential Septic Tank Waste Onto Federal Lands
ALBUQUERQUE – Anthony Wiggins, 54, and Alex Wiggins, 51, both of Farmington, N.M., were arraigned this morning on a four count indictment charging them with conspiracy and depredation of government property, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, Bruce Bigelow, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Region 5 of the Office of Law Enforcement Services of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen. The two men entered not guilty pleas to the indictment and were released pending trial.
The indictment charges Anthony Wiggins, the primary operator of A-1 Septic, a residential septic tank waste disposal company in Farmington, and his brother Alex Wiggins with conspiracy to depredate government property between Feb. 2013 and March 2013, in San Juan County, N.M., by dumping liquid waste pumped from residential septic tanks onto federal land administered by the BLM. The indictment also charges the two men with three counts of depredation of government property for allegedly dumping residential septic tank waste onto federal lands on three separate occasions in March 2013.
Court filings reflect that the investigation of this case began in early March 2013, after a private citizen reported seeing a black sludge-like substance on a remote rural road in San Juan County to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office (SJCSO). After it was determined that the property at which the substance was dumped was federal land, the BLM partnered with the SJCSO to conduct the investigation. During the course of the investigation, covert cameras photographed a septic vacuum pumper truck and the defendants as they allegedly dumped residential septic tank waste onto BLM administered federal lands on March 6 and 9, 2013.
“It is important that public lands, which are held in trust for the benefit of all citizens, are appropriately protected by our land management agencies,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales. “I commend the BLM and San Juan County Sheriff for their commitment to ensuring that those who unlawfully encroach on these lands and cause damage will be prosecuted.”
BLM Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bruce Bigelow said, “This investigation represents the strong partnership between the BLM and the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and the dedication of both agencies towards the protection of New Mexico’s public lands. The successes of this investigation would not have been possible without the diligence of the BLM Special Agents and Rangers and the assistance of the hard working men and women of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.”
“We are not going to tolerate people dumping raw sewage in San Juan County,” said Sheriff Ken Christesen
If convicted of the conspiracy charge, Anthony Wiggins and Alex Wiggins each face a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each also faces a maximum possible sentence of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the three depredation charges. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the BLM and the SCJSO and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson.