New Mexico's justice system began with colonization of the region by the Spanish. The earliest record of arrest and punishment begins with Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar (1550–1626). The son of a conquistador, Oñate was ordered in 1595 by King Philip II to colonize the northern frontier of New Spain. He began the expedition in 1598, and on April 30 claimed all of New Mexico beyond the Rio Grande for Spain. He and his party continued up the Rio Grande, where he founded Santa Fé de Nuevo México. Oñate ...

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