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U.S. attorney calls for jurisdiction fix in N.M.

The top federal prosecutor in New Mexico says Congress will have to step in and resolve conflicting rulings over the meaning of Indian Country in the state.

U.S. Attorney David Iglesias says the rulings pose a "code red" because some crimes may go unpunished by the federal or state courts. He says there will be "prosecution-free zones" within Pueblo lands.

At issue is the status of private-owned land within the boundaries of Pueblo reservations. Some state judges have ruled the state lacks jurisdiction over these properties even if the tribe doesn't own them.

The problem arises when the crimes that allegedly occur on these lands are not covered under federal law. An Indian person who commits child neglect against an Indian child, for example, could escape state and federal prosecution.

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'Indian Country� rulings create jurisdiction questions (AP 4/19)