Illegal dumping piles up at Gallup cemetery

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GALLUP, N.M. – A Gallup woman shared photos of a small child’s grave in a city cemetery that’s been shared dozens of times. It shows piles and piles of trash covering people’s final resting place. 

KOB 4 spoke with city officials Monday about how they’re dealing with the mess.

“Gallup is a small town, and we all know each other,” said Vincent Alonzo, a City of Gallup Parks and Recreation director. “So it’s important to all of us.”

Except the few who have been treating local burial sites like a trash can.

Taylor Jones recently shared these photos on Facebook, of a child’s grave in the Gallup city cemetery covered in rotting food, scattered papers, and empty bottles and cans.

“We have a huge problem with illegal dumping, and if you can see the trash cans are overflowing,” said Alonzo. “I have a crew that goes through and dumps them on a daily basis, but by tomorrow they are full.”

Alonzo says the trash isn’t generated at the cemetery, but he believes it’s where people bring their trash from home because it’s in a convenient location.

“Kind of like out there in outer city limits where there’s not a lot of people around,” said Alonzo. 

And they skip the landfill fee.

“We have a huge I think it’s like a five-yard dumpster in the cemetery. That thing would be filled up- we have that thing dumped three times a week by our Solid Waste Department,” Alonzo said. 

But if anyone is caught illegally dumping or littering, Gallup’s police chief says they could end up paying a lot more than a small dump fee.

“Class C littering is a scattering of more than 10 items of litter,” said Gallup Police Department Chief Erin Toadlena-Pablo. “Just by looking at the photos, it falls under the Class C.”

Which carries a fine up to $50 and up to two days in jail. The chief also says the city will increase patrols in the cemetery, if the illegal dumping gets worse. 

“It’s unfortunate for that young child or baby that we’re talking about,” said Alonzo. “We all know how important the cemetery is to not only the people that are in the cemetery, but to the people that are still living.”

Alonzo says crews cleaned the city cemetery again Monday morning, and will continue to stay on top of illegal dumping out there.

He also says to call his department if you have any concerns about trash or maintenance of a loved one’s gravesite.