Border town struggles to recover from gun scandal

August 27, 2011 - 9:50 AM

COLUMBUS, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have all but wrapped up their prosecution of a Mexican gun smuggling ring that snared the mayor, police chief and a trustee of this quiet, dusty border town.

But the new mayor says resolution of the case is little consolation for Columbus. The town was defrocked, losing its reputation and sense of trust, and was brought to the brink of financial ruin by its former leaders.

The now jailed officials also left the town's record-keeping in shambles. The police department has been shuttered. Water and sewer service continue only because a laid off city worker is keeping grant funding on track. Recreation activities were shut down. Mos of the city's remaining 15 workers have had their hours cut and benefits eliminated.