As focus turns to Jeffrey Epstein’s ranch, official says: “There is a story to be told in New Mexico”
New Mexico’s commissioner of public lands saidas details emerge about at his ranch in the state. In an exclusive interview, she revealed her office is fully cooperating with investigators and has turned over 400 pages of Epstein’s property records to investigators — documents that may contain names of his alleged co-conspirators.
As investigators begin to interview women who said they were abused at Epstein’s ranch, New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard told CBS News’ Mola Lenghi she hopes taking this step will inspire more alleged victims to come forward because “there is a story to be told in New Mexico.”
“To say that it was heart wrenching and sickening to see this man’s signature on state land office documents is an understatement,” Garcia Richard said.
Epstein’s compound, called Zorro Ranch, partially rests on land he leased from Garcia Richard’s office. The lease agreements with the state were included when Epstein purchased the property in 1993 under the name Zorro Trust, which later became Cypress, Inc. Garcia Richard said she is now reviewing the leases with Cypress, Inc. to see if it is in breach of contract. If so, the commissioner insisted she would terminate the agreements.
As with his homes in New York, Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands, Epstein, a convicted sex offender, is alleged to have sexually abused young girls on the sprawling, nearly 10,000-acre property.
For Garcia Richard, it’s difficult to imagine what may have been happening on the New Mexico property.
“They name folks that were ranch managers, and so you just kind of wonder who knew what when at the time that these activities were taking place,” she said.
State property records newly obtained by CBS News show that in addition to a main house, Epstein’s property has a pool, firehouse, offices, a log cabin and guest house among other amenities. Garcia Richard said the property also features an airstrip, an antique railroad car and train tracks.
Epstein didn’t appear to have connections in New Mexico prior to purchasing Zorro Ranch. Asked what would draw him to the state, Garcia Richard said, “I think there’s a perception that people won’t ask questions … this case can really show the world that you can’t get away with things in New Mexico.”
Sources told CBS News that Epstein was politically well-connected in New Mexico. Former governor Bill Richardson visited the Zorro Ranch at least once. A recently unsealed 2016 deposition with Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre references Richardson as someone Giuffre was”directed” to have sex with.
Soon after the deposition was unsealed, a spokesperson for Richardson said in a statement, “These allegations and inferences are completely false. To be clear, in Governor Richardson’s limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls. Governor Richardson has never met Ms. Giuffre.”
The Jeffrey Epstein story somehow got even more disturbing today. A New York Times report says that the sex offender and billionaire was using his connections to elite scientists and academics in an attempt to help foster his dream of “seed[ing] the human race with his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch.”
Despite his 2008 sex-trafficking conviction, Epstein regularly held dinners, lunches, and conferences attended by many of the world’s most prominent scientists, including Steven Hawking. Three people told the Times about one particular pursuit Epstein discussed at these events: “On multiple occasions starting in the early 2000s,” the Times reports, “Mr. Epstein told scientists and businessmen about his ambitions to use his New Mexico ranch as a base where women would be inseminated with his sperm and would give birth to his babies … Mr. Epstein’s goal was to have 20 women at a time impregnated at his 33,000-square-foot Zorro Ranch in a tiny town outside Santa Fe.”
Despite how deranged that sounds, in the world of “transhumanists” — a group of mostly rich and powerful men obsessed with extending and improving human life through genetic science and technology — it apparently didn’t register as a red flag. The allure of Epstein’s financial backing meant that people routinely listened to him talk about batshit ideas while drinking Dom Pérignon on a submarine.
This wasn’t the only wildly nefarious idea Epstein advanced to a group of acquiescent intellectual luminaries. Harvard philosopher Steve Pinker said that Epstein once “criticized efforts to reduce starvation and provide health care to the poor because doing so increased the risk of overpopulation.” He also told another scientist that he was “bankrolling efforts to identify a mysterious particle that might trigger the feeling that someone is watching you,” and mentioned to an unnamed “adherent of transhumanism” that he “wanted his head and penis to be frozen.”
It’s important to note that Epstein expressed these desires to multiple people, who did not head for the hills after hearing them. The lunches and conferences continued into the 2000s, even after Epstein began dropping hints about the “baby ranch.” Which is to say that money poisons even the world’s brightest brains.
(Reuters) – New Mexico’s attorney general on Thursday called for the cancellation of state land leases to Jeffrey Epstein as his office investigated allegations the late financier sexually abused girls and women at his ranch south of Santa Fe.
The leased land forms part of Epstein’s nearly 10,000-acre Zorro Ranch near Stanley, New Mexico, one of multiple luxury properties held by Epstein, who was found dead in a Manhattan jail cell on Aug. 10.
Attorney General Hector Balderas requested the state retake the 1,244 acres of grassland after an investigation by his office found it appeared to have been improperly leased in the late 1990s.
“This sweetheart deal must be canceled and reassigned to a New Mexico ranching family,” Balderas said in an emailed statement.
Epstein, a 66-year-old money manager who once counted U.S. President Donald Trump as a friend, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14.
A New York City medical examiner concluded that he died in custody this month due to suicide by hanging.
A federal judge in New York on Thursday dismissed the criminal sex trafficking case against Epstein because of his death. Federal prosecutors said the government’s investigation into potential co-conspirators was ongoing.
Balderas said in July his office was investigating allegations Epstein’s Zorro ranch was at the center of his alleged sexual abuse and trafficking of girls and women in the state.
Leases signed by Epstein’s holding company Cypress Inc in 1997 and 1999 said the state land forming part of the ranch would be used for grazing, according to the New Mexico State Land Office (NMSLO). Balderas said in a Thursday letter to state land commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard that a review by the attorney general’s office found no cattle on the lands.
Balderas said the leases “appear to simply have been taken by him (Epstein) to increase privacy and the land mass surrounding his estate.
Epstein’s lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.
Angie Poss, a NMSLO spokeswoman, said Epstein employees had not responded to requests by her agency to inspect the land.
The Zorro Ranch is one of the few Epstein properties yet to be raided by law enforcement officials following his arrest.
“We are in the process of cancelling those leases by Cypress Inc,” Poss said.
In 2015, Dallas Grassbaugh was 23, homeless and supporting a debilitating drug habit by selling her body for sex. Then she met Shane Roach. She’d already escaped two sex traffickers by then, and Roach, an aspiring hip-hop artist from Albuquerque, promised he could help and protect her.
Roach bought her a meal and drove her to a motel, where she rented a room. Inside, he took away her cellphone and ID and told Grassbaugh she now belonged to him.
He imposed several rules: She wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without him or contact anyone without his approval. She was required to call him “Daddy.” For insurance, Roach reminded her that he knew where her father and brother lived. And he showed her a picture of her grandmother’s house in another state.
Roach advertised Grassbaugh online, offering sex with her in exchange for money, all of which he kept.
She was forced to work from 7 am every morning until 4 am the next day. If men stopped calling, she was allowed a few hours to sleep, but at 7 am, she was on duty again.
One day, he drove her into the desert west of Albuquerque.
“He beat the hell out of me with his pistol, and told me that he would bury me out there if I tried to leave or if I disobeyed him,” Grassbaugh tells SFR.
Once, when Roach thought she’d tried to contact someone without his permission, he beat her with the telephone in a motel room until her skin split open and blood gushed down her face. He then informed her he planned to sell her to another pimp—a transaction that, if completed, would mark the fourth trafficker in just a few years who considered her his property.
Grassbaugh escaped soon after, with help from a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that aids sex trafficking survivors and police. She went on to testify in court against Roach for nearly 10 hours, helping prosecutors send him to prison for more than a decade.
Grassbaugh’s waking nightmare is common.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — At the center of Jeffrey Epstein’s secluded New Mexico ranch sits a sprawling residence the financier built decades ago — complete with plans for a 4,000-square-foot (372-square-meter) courtyard, a living room roughly the size of the average American home and a nearby private airplane runway.
Known as the Zorro Ranch, the high-desert property is now tied to an investigation that the state attorney general’s office says it has opened into Epstein with plans to forward findings to federal authorities in New York.
Epstein, who pleaded not guilty this week to federal sex trafficking charges in New York, has not faced criminal charges in New Mexico. But the scandal surrounding him has still sent a jolt through the rural southwestern state as it comes under scrutiny for laws that allowed him to avoid registering as a sex offender following a guilty plea a decade ago in Florida.
“New Mexico continues to lag behind the rest of the country in strengthening outdated and weak laws that fail to protect our children from abuse,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press. “This is a huge black eye for our state.”
In addition to confirming his office had interviewed possible victims of Epstein who visited his ranch south of Santa Fe, Balderas’ spokesman also said Friday that the attorney general would renew his push for legislation requiring anyone with a sex trafficking conviction to register as a sex offender in New Mexico.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution under an agreement that required him to spend 13 months in jail and register as a sex offender. The agreement has been widely criticized for secretly ending a federal sex abuse investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls at the time that could have landed him behind bars for life.
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said Friday he’s stepping down amid the tumult over his handling of the 2008 deal with Epstein. Acosta was the U.S. attorney in Miami when he oversaw the non-prosecution agreement.
The indictment filed in New York this week accuses Epstein of paying girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and then molesting them at his homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and New York from 2002 through 2005. The charges carry the potential for up to 45 years in prison.
In New Mexico, the attorney general said he has been in touch with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. Balderas’ office has not said, however, how many accusers his office has interviewed and he has not elaborated on what they say took place at the ranch.
In a 2015 court filing in Florida, a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Epstein said she had been abused at several locations, including the New Mexico property.
Records show Epstein purchased the ranch, valued by county officials at over $12 million, from the family of former Gov. Bruce King, who died 10 years ago. A 1995 Santa Fe New Mexican story about his plans to build a mansion on the property said the home would be 26,700 square feet (2,480 square meters) with a 2,100-square-foot (195-square-meter) living room.
Aerial images of the property show an airplane hangar and landing strip. Closer to the east edge of the property, several structures that appear to serve as small homes and stables stand in public view.
The King family still owns land surrounding much of Epstein’s ranch near the town of Stanley, a rural outpost on the plains that stretch east of the Sandia Mountains.
Gary King, the son of the former governor, was the state attorney general from 2007 to 2015, and was among a handful of candidates in the state who returned Epstein campaign donations.
King had received $15,000 from Epstein in 2006 during his first-bid for attorney general, and then received $35,000 from firms linked to Epstein in 2014.
Former Gov. Bill Richardson donated $50,000 in 2006 gubernatorial campaign contributions from Epstein to charity.
In neighboring Arizona, Epstein donated $50,000 to the University of Arizona in 2017, the Arizona Republic newspaper reported Saturday.
Epstein gave the money to the university through his foundation Gratitude America Ltd., the Republic and the Daily Beast website reported. The money was designated for a 2017 Science of Consciousness conference, the Daily Beast reported.
The university didn’t know of Epstein’s involvement in the foundation, Pam Scott, the university’s associate vice president of external communications, told the Republic. The university does not plan to return the donation, Scott said.