Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Suspected serial arsonist arrested in string of holiday weekend fires

LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – A Las Cruces man found himself behind bars for the fourth time in less than a year after police suspect him in a string of new arsons over Memorial Day weekend.

Samuel Cabrales-Nevarez, 50, is charged with two counts of arson and two counts of criminal damage to property, and improper handling of a fire.

According to Las Cruces Fire investigators, the first fire was reported around 11:30 pm Sunday, May 29. Authorities say seven fires were reported in eight hours along Valley Drive, Avenida de Mesilla, and West Picacho Avenue through 7 on Monday, May 30 .

One fire destroyed a pickup parked at the Trader Man Pawn Shop on Avenida de Mesilla. Another fire damaged playground equipment at Lions Park on Picacho Avenue. Yet another fire was reported in a trash receptacle at the Tractor Supply store, and numerous brush fires were reported at multiple locations.

Several witnesses described the suspect as a man carrying a stick. Las Cruces Police located a suspect matching the description, later identified as Cabrales-Nevarez, near Picacho Avenue and 17th Street.

2 vehicles burn in Las Cruces, Man charged with arson

Monday’s arrest is the third time Cabrales-Nevarez has been arrested and charged with Arson since January. He was arrested on January 22 after neighbors allegedly spotted him setting fire to a vehicle at 1855 West Picacho. April 20, 2022, he was arrested after investigators learned he might have set fire to two cars at 311 South Main Street.

In a separate incident on May 7, Cabrales-Nevarez was accused of damaging six Las Cruces Fire Department vehicles with rocks, causing thousands of dollars in damages.

Cabrales-Nevarez was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center on Monday. He was granted bond and released from custody on Tuesday.

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