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‘I’ve got to beg for money to buy heroin’: Panhandling OK in Las Cruces, just don’t block traffic

shane watson homeless las cruces panhandling
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Shane Watson, 54, admitted to ABC-7 that he panhandles along the streets of Las Cruces for money to buy heroin.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - After losing his leg to Gangrene, Shane Watson told ABC-7 he self-medicates with drugs.

“I can’t get pain medication, so I’ve got to beg for money to buy heroin," Watson said on Friday.

The 54-year-old Albuquerque native has been begging for money in Las Cruces for several years after he said he was cut off from Oxycodone and Morphine.

“My life went to hell when they took my pain meds away," Watson said. "Every day’s been a struggle."

Companies like Walmart and Kohl's are asking for the city's assistance to pass out trespassing cards to people caught panhandling on company property.

“I think the biggest concerns that they’ve had is people who block their parking lots and interfere with their customers by going to ask their customers for assistance," explained Dan Trujillo, a spokesman for the city of Las Cruces.

"We know that more people are experiencing homelessness," said Nicole Martinez, the executive director of Community of Hope. "But we also know that coupled with that, we got way better at counting, so numbers seem really high this year."

Trujillo told ABC-7 that asking for money on a sidewalk is "perfectly legal." However, people cannot run into a roadway to collect money or stand on a median, defined as "unsafe loitering" in city ordinance #2879.

"I'm going to do it anyways," Watson said.

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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