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ONLY ON ABC-7: Class-action lawsuit alleges infestation of bedbugs, roaches at apartment complex

Three former tenants of a Las Cruces apartment complex have filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging an infestation of bedbugs, rats and roaches.

“My experience was horrible there,” said Erica Olivas, a former tenant of Desert Palms Apartments on Picacho Avenue. “There was an infestation of roaches every day, everywhere. I mean, huge, giant roaches crawling on the bed, crawling on our countertops, on our stove.”

One year ago this month, ABC-7 broke the news of the bed bug infestation at the low-income housing complex. Last September, a spokesman for complex said he was aware of the problem.

“It appears that the complaints come from tenants that left approximately one year ago when we were dealing with this issue almost full time,” wrote Jeff Curry, who manages the property with JL Gray Company.

Curry declined to give an on-camera or over-the-phone interview on Tuesday, choosing to respond over email. He told ABC-7 his company has had to evict tenants who decline pest control services.

“(Last year) was a very difficult time for Desert Palms and the residents there,” Curry wrote. “Our records show that at least one of the plaintiffs in the suit repeatedly refused pest control service and may have added to the problem.”

Former tenants told ABC-7 the experience took a toll on their mental and physical health.

“For about a month, the rats grew and I guess, made babies between my stove,” Olivas said. “As I was cooking or living there, I began to feel very ill and constantly at the doctor, constantly wondering what was going on.”

Because the rent was so affordable, former tenants said they felt trapped in unhealthy living conditions.

“It was very hard to find a place that we could afford and have my wife in a health environment,” said Donald Boyce, who told ABC-7 he is a disabled veteran. “My wife got very ill, I got ill, and when we told them about that, they more or less neglected us.”

Boyce told ABC-7 he and his wife paid $400 per month rent in the apartment.

“Never did they actually come in and get ride of anything,” Boyce said.

“Just because you’re not able to afford a $900 apartment complex doesn’t mean that you get to live in this poverty,” Olivas said.

“This is not only an issue for people with lower incomes,” Curry wrote. “Unfortunately, people with fewer financial means may lack the resources to take care of a bedbug issue effectively. That is why Desert Palms does not charge its residents for bedbug issues that they discover.

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