Tow truck operator in legal trouble over junkyard
January 17, 2018 06:28 PM
SERAFINA, N.M. -- The man who spent more than 12 hours towing people to safety after a deadly 20-vehicle pileup on I-25 says his business is at risk and the state has threatened to shut him down.
Chris Trujillo owns All American Towing and a junkyard with more than 100 vehicles. It sits right off I-25 between Santa Fe and Las Vegas. According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, it's a problem that's become a lawsuit.
While Trujillo has a business license, the agency states he's in violation of a highway beautification act because his junkyard is less than 1,000 feet from the interstate. The lawsuit also states Trujillo is operating without a state or county license.
The stress is sometimes almost too much for Trujillo to handle.
"I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, but I'm not going to give up," he said. "I don't have an option to give up and I will not."
Trujillo applied for a permit with NMDOT but was denied because of zoning laws. He said before that, he was operating on a conditional use permit from San Miguel County. When DOT denied his application, the county permit was revoked.
Last summer, the department gave him 30 days to move his business, but Trujillo said he has nowhere to go
"The way I see it is it's not an attack on Chris Trujillo," he said. "It's an attack on the common man that you come from a place where there's nothing and never going to be anything."
Trujillo, the father of two boys, said it may not look like much, but the junkyard is something he's worked for his entire life -- and not just for himself.
"My goal is my kids when they're old enough if they choose to go to school, or if they choose not to go to school they can get in the truck and go," he said.
Trujillo hopes DOT can compromise and meet him in the middle with regulations.
"I'm not asking for any handouts. Nothing," he said. "Success or failure should be on the individual not because somebody else says you can't do it."
KOB reached out to NM DOT about the lawsuit. The spokesperson said if they don't enforce their junkyard laws, they could potentially lose $50 million a year of federal highway funds. Trujillo said he has until Feb. 2 to file his response to the lawsuit in district court.
Updated: January 17, 2018 06:28 PM
Created: January 17, 2018 04:35 PM
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