Jury Convicts Former Environmental Official in Illegal Dumping Case

A New Mexico jury convicts Hector Villa III, the former director of the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission, of eight felony counts related to illegal dumping.

In a state investigation assisted by the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division, a jury sitting in the New Mexico District Court in Las Cruces, N.M., convicted Hector Villa III of eight felony counts involving the dumping of thousands of gallons of animal rendering waste in a Southern New Mexico landfill. Villa once served as director of the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission office in El Paso.

Richard Jerome, President of Valley By-Products of Vinton, Tex., and Henry Medina, owner of Southwest Septic Service in Las Cruces, N.M., previously pleaded guilty in this case.

Villa was a consultant to the Valley By-Products plant, which renders animal parts into useful products. Between 1997 and 1999, Jerome and Medina illegally disposed of thousands of gallons of rendering plant wastewater and animal wastes at a landfill operated by Medina West of Las Cruces, N.M. Villa knew that the landfill did not have a permit to accept the rendering wastes, but he allowed Valley By-Products to dump there without notifying the state.

The improper disposal of rendering plant wastewater can contaminate groundwater supplies and create a public health risk.

The case was investigated by the state of New Mexico, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission and EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by the New Mexico States Attorney's Office in Las Cruces.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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