As focus turns to Jeffrey Epstein's ranch, official says: "There is a story to be told in New Mexico"

Last Updated Aug 23, 2019 4:44 PM EDT

New Mexico's commissioner of public lands said she's on a mission for justice as details emerge about Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex abuse at his ranch in the state. In an exclusive interview, she revealed her office is fully cooperating with investigators and has turned over 400 pages of Epstein's property records to investigators — documents that may contain names of his alleged co-conspirators.

As investigators begin to interview women who said they were abused at Epstein's ranch, New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard told CBS News' Mola Lenghi she hopes taking this step will inspire more alleged victims to come forward because "there is a story to be told in New Mexico."

"To say that it was heart wrenching and sickening to see this man's signature on state land office documents is an understatement," Garcia Richard said. 

Epstein's compound, called Zorro Ranch, partially rests on land he leased from Garcia Richard's office. The lease agreements with the state were included when Epstein purchased the property in 1993 under the name Zorro Trust, which later became Cypress, Inc. Garcia Richard said she is now reviewing the leases with Cypress, Inc. to see if it is in breach of contract. If so, the commissioner insisted she would terminate the agreements.

As with his homes in New York, Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands, Epstein, a convicted sex offender, is alleged to have sexually abused young girls on the sprawling, nearly 10,000-acre property.

For Garcia Richard, it's difficult to imagine what may have been happening on the New Mexico property.

"They name folks that were ranch managers, and so you just kind of wonder who knew what when at the time that these activities were taking place," she said.

State property records newly obtained by CBS News show that in addition to a main house, Epstein's property has a pool, firehouse, offices, a log cabin and guest house among other amenities. Garcia Richard said the property also features an airstrip, an antique railroad car and train tracks.

Federal agents haven't raided Epstein's New Mexico ranch

Epstein didn't appear to have connections in New Mexico prior to purchasing Zorro Ranch. Asked what would draw him to the state, Garcia Richard said, "I think there's a perception that people won't ask questions … this case can really show the world that you can't get away with things in New Mexico."

Sources told CBS News that Epstein was politically well-connected in New Mexico. Former governor Bill Richardson visited the Zorro Ranch at least once. A recently unsealed 2016 deposition with Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre references Richardson as someone Giuffre was"directed" to have sex with.

Soon after the deposition was unsealed, a spokesperson for Richardson said in a statement, "These allegations and inferences are completely false. To be clear, in Governor Richardson's limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls. Governor Richardson has never met Ms. Giuffre."


Editor's note: This article has been updated to quote the language from the recently unsealed 2016 deposition in which Richardson is named.