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El Paso County residents stuck with illegal waste

By: Stacey Welsh
EL PASO COUNTY, Texas -- You name it, you can probably find it in the trash dumped in the east El Paso County desert.

"It's tires, it's washing machines, it's lots of things," Montana Vista resident Fernie Contreras said.

Deputy William Kirtley from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said he is the only deputy in the entire county assigned to patrol the desert for illegal dumping.

He said punishments for illegal dumping could be hundreds of dollars in fines and even jail time. The punishment depends on how much waste people dump.

"Until it goes to court, of if there's even a case that's been presented, then this stuff will stay out here," Kirtley said.

Kirtley also said people could volunteer to clean up trash, but that doesn't always happen.

Some living in Montana Vista said they do pick up the trash because it's near their homes.

"It makes it look really bad and really not taken care of. People just throw stuff everywhere," Contreras said.

Kirtley also said he's found personal information, like social security numbers, in the trash.

"Sometimes we actually have people that come out here and look for that information. They'll be going through the trash, and they'll find those social security numbers and use it for fraud," Kirtley said.

El Paso County health inspectors assist the Sheriff's Office with environmental concerns related to illegal dumping and Kirtley said the Sheriff's Office could assign more deputies to those patrols in the future.

He said many people dump waste illegally so they don't have to pay for a landfill.

"We need people to take more responsibility for their actions and what they did," Contreras said.

Kirtley also said the Sheriff's Office plans to stake out some areas at night to catch people in the act.



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