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Shadow Wolves Stalk Border Smugglers
FoxNews.com ^ | 11/13/02 | William LaJeunesse

Posted on 11/13/2002 9:00:41 AM PST by zingzang

LOS ANGELES — Innovations in law enforcement help many arms of justice but when it comes to tracking drug smugglers on the U.S.-Mexico border, native intuition may be the smartest weapon yet.

The Shadow Wolves is an elite U.S. Customs unit based in the Tohono O'odham Indian reservation in Arizona. It is composed solely of Native Americans of Blackfoot, Cheyenne and Pima tribes who are known for their uncanny ability to track aliens and the drugs they may carry.

"Instead of tracking an animal, we track human beings," agent Bryan Nez said.

Twenty-three Shadow Wolves patrol an area the size of Connecticut. It may resemble the middle of nowhere, but the 5,000-square-mile stretch of the Mexican border is the frontline of homeland security for America.

Trained as marksmen and trackers, the Shadow Wolves intercepted one-third of all the marijuana stopped by customs in Arizona in 2001.

"This is what we do every day. Day in, day out, we track," said agent Mike Kittson.

And this sensitive area has become overwhelmed by drug smuggling, said Richard Saunders, chief of the Tohono Police Department. "Just in the last year alone … we have seized more than 65,000 pounds of marijuana destined for the backyard of the United States," he told Fox News.

But, even with all the assistance they bring, Tohono hasn’t received anything yet in federal government aide to help the reservation’s borders, Saunders said.

"The American Patriot Act and the number of letters -- pages that are included in that -- there is absolutely no mention of dollars to Indian country in general, reservations, nations or law enforcement," he said.

In 1972 the Shadow Wolves originated to help stop the smuggling of contraband on reservations, according to the Native American Press/Ojibwe News, and they used their skills to stop marijuana from crossing the reservation on its way to other destinations.

Now, they are teaching their tracking skills to foreign governments to help them hunt down weapons of mass destruction, NAP/ON reported.

"Shadow Wolves use the skills they often learned as children: tracking game on the reservation or finding free-ranging livestock that may have wandered away. These early skills translate to much finer skills later in professional tracking," NAP/ON reported.

"A group of Shadow Wolves recently traveled to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to train national police, border guards and customs officers on how to detect and track potential weapons of mass destruction smugglers who cross their borders."

And the tricks they teach are utilized daily at the Mexican border.

No matter how barren or desolate the desert may appear, the Shadow Wolves say there is a story told in the sand. They have become so effective at stopping narcotics smugglers that smugglers will unfurl a blanket before crossing a road so they leave no tracks. However, everyone leaves a trace of something behind.

Tiny burlap fibers sticking to tree branches suggest smugglers' packhorses still carry their bundles of marijuana.

Smugglers have started strapping pieces of carpet to their shoes, hoping to throw off the Shadow Wolves.

But the faint impressions leave a trail leading to drug sales across the country. In just one day the Shadow Wolves seized 800 pounds of pot.

"It is not about the stuff we miss," said Kittson. "It’s about the stuff we get."

And it’s not just the locals who are in need of protection from illegal border smugglers, Edward Emanuel, chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, told Fox News.

"They're in danger, not only our people, but also the people in the United States … because we don't know who's coming through," he said. "It's not just the nationals … the Mexican nationals, but people from other countries are coming through here."

Fox News' Amy C. Sims contributed to this report.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Mexico; US: Arizona; US: Arkansas
KEYWORDS: borderpatrol; drugsmuggling; warondrugs
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1 posted on 11/13/2002 9:00:41 AM PST by zingzang
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To: madfly
fyi
2 posted on 11/13/2002 9:06:23 AM PST by Libertarianize the GOP
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To: zingzang
Bump! That was a good spot on Fox.

Two thumbs up to the Shadow Wolves!
3 posted on 11/13/2002 9:07:05 AM PST by F-117A
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To: zingzang
Wow, I'm impressed. Especially since illegal alien tracks in the Mojave look like this:


4 posted on 11/13/2002 9:09:59 AM PST by LibWhacker
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To: zingzang
Never mind the Patriot Act, I'm thinking book deal, TV show, merchandise tie-ins galore. These guys are American heroes, and the flames of their fame should be fanned. Where is Tony Hillerman when you need him?
5 posted on 11/13/2002 9:15:07 AM PST by 3AngelaD
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To: zingzang
Oooo - cool!

Can we clone these guys and their units and put them all over the border!?

6 posted on 11/13/2002 9:19:30 AM PST by Spiff
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To: 3AngelaD
Where is Tony Hillerman when you need him?

Half a world away up north by the Navajo res. ;) I saw this spot on Fox and it made my day. WTG Shadow Wolves!

7 posted on 11/13/2002 9:32:56 AM PST by Lil'freeper
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To: zingzang
Interesting that we are told that they are training foreign law enforcement personnel, but not domestic personnel. WTF?
8 posted on 11/13/2002 9:39:26 AM PST by RonF
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To: Libertarianize the GOP; Marine Inspector; Ajnin; Clinton Is Scum; norton; Under the Radar; ...
Thanks for the flag. How interesting.

Just this morning, the local news (Phoenix News 3) chopper had live footage of what must have been these guys in action. They identified them as O’odham Swat police. DPS and Customs Narcotics were also involved. Also a Blackhawk chopper.

When they got to the Suburban they were after, they signaled that the smugglers had fled. They gave the location as Stanfield, AZ. I will be looking updates.

9 posted on 11/13/2002 9:40:21 AM PST by madfly
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To: zingzang; Free the USA; Tancredo Fan; agitator; Sabertooth; Tancred; Spiff; backhoe; Carry_Okie; ...
ping
10 posted on 11/13/2002 9:44:50 AM PST by madfly
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To: BillyBoy; lizma; johnboy; ChaseR; AmericanInTokyo; Whilom; BrowningBAR; traditionalist; ...
fyi
11 posted on 11/13/2002 9:45:59 AM PST by madfly
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To: zingzang
These guys need a really cool logo
12 posted on 11/13/2002 9:52:04 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: Lil'freeper
The Tohono O'odham and Navajo Res's are half a world apart?

I thought it was only 300 miles from one to the other?

13 posted on 11/13/2002 9:52:23 AM PST by HiJinx
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To: Lil'freeper
They aren't on the Navajo reservation. It's the Tohono O'ohdam Reservation, near the Mexican border. I am confused, though, because they mention Navajo members, possibly working with the O'ohdam's?
14 posted on 11/13/2002 10:02:44 AM PST by madfly
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To: RonF
Here's more on this story:

They are the only customs unit that uses ancient American Indian tracking skills to hunt down drug smugglers.

shadow wolves

NBC4 accompanied the team on a raid where they uncovered drug-runners hiding in a stash house. They carried their 200-pound load of dope in backpacks across the Mexican border right into Arizona's Tohono O'odham reservation.

The area where the reservation lies is a land of fiery skies and Sawaro cactus and it's the ancient secrets passed down through Indian tribes that makes these drug busts possible.

The U.S. Customs Police on the reservation are all Native Americans who call themselves Shadow Wolves. They track smugglers as they trek across a treacherous stretch of desert. How do they do it?

Officer Bob Antone, from the Tohono O'ohdam tribe, relies on tribal tracking skills. He scours the ground for fresh tracks or the faint impression of carpet, which smugglers attach to their shoes to hide footprints.

A broken branch that's already dried out is a sign to him that drug-runners came through a while ago. "They've got their packs on, and they'd be coming through like this, brushing onto here," said Antone. He also finds another sign: fibers from burlap sacks that cling to branches.

All 21 U.S. Customs officers learned these ancient secrets from their elders.

"I had done some tracking with my dad out hunting," said Antone.

But these tribal members no longer hunt animals -- now, the hunt drug-runners.

A village known as Cowlick, about 20 miles or so from the Mexican border, seems quiet and peaceful, but in reality it's home to several known stash houses.

The Shadow Wolves seize an average of 1,000 pounds of dope each week -- and that's not all.

Bryan Nez, a Navaho Indian, says since Sept. 11, the Shadow Wolves also look for terrorists.

"We had a couple of officers find some foot signs. Right up at the load-up area he found the passports of Middle Eastern origin," said Nez.

A fence at the border between Mexico and the reservation acts as a minor obstacle to individuals trying to get across the borders.

"See this one, it looks like the Mexican army," said Nez as he pointed out another foot sign.

Officer Jason Garcia told NBC4 that there is some suspicion that the Mexican army is actually working with the drug smugglers.

When asked if he is wary when he spots the Mexican military along the border, Garcia said he was worried they might "shoot at us, or who knows what they are going to do."

Another secret the Shadow Wolves shared with NBC4 when examining foot signs was what the presence of animal tracks over foot impressions means.

"These footprints are from earlier. (They are) older, because desert creatures have had time to run over them," explained one officer.

When officers happen onto a trail that looks fresh and it looks promising, they then resort to some high-tech equipment like night-vision goggles.

The Shadow Wolves carry their heritage and find their prey -- load by load. Responsible for a third of the customs service seizures in all of Arizona, they continue to be the only unit of their kind


15 posted on 11/13/2002 10:08:35 AM PST by madfly
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To: madfly
I saw this on fox..it is an excellent group..BUT the disclosure of them is simply a bone thrown to those of us that want secure borders..They are a sharp sword..we need a BIG bomb to end the tide..

SECURE OUR BORDERS

NOW


16 posted on 11/13/2002 10:10:39 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7
bttt
17 posted on 11/13/2002 10:15:02 AM PST by madfly
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To: madfly
Its to bad some one on the reservation does'nt come up with T Shirts with the shadow wolves on them. The money to go to the trackers, which is probably nost of them. Does any one know any body that lives on the reservation that might be interested in doing this?
I would sure buy one, I think what they are doing is one super job. One reason could be, no government dictating to them what they can do and what they can't do.
18 posted on 11/13/2002 10:19:26 AM PST by calawah98
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To: madfly
Officer Jason Garcia told NBC4 that there is some suspicion that the Mexican army is actually working with the drug smugglers.

SOME suspicion??

19 posted on 11/13/2002 10:21:05 AM PST by janetgreen
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To: calawah98
...no government dictating to them what they can do and what they can't do.

Good point. Maybe the government can learn a lesson from this. Let's hope so.

20 posted on 11/13/2002 10:22:32 AM PST by zingzang
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To: calawah98
Its to bad some one on the reservation does'nt come up with T Shirts with the shadow wolves on them.

That's like putting a target on their chests.

21 posted on 11/13/2002 10:24:35 AM PST by Carry_Okie
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To: zingzang
Just added it to my email, watch out senators and Bush here comes another page. lol
22 posted on 11/13/2002 10:25:54 AM PST by calawah98
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To: Teacher317
They also need government aide for their reservation. Let's see if our President will take up on moving people to finally bring the help that is due to reservations.
23 posted on 11/13/2002 10:29:09 AM PST by Hila
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To: madfly
do you have a link to that story?
24 posted on 11/13/2002 10:29:17 AM PST by Pa' fuera
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To: madfly
Many kudos to the Shadow Wolves. Now the government should get out of their way and let them do their job. If the Mexican army is protecting the drug runners and smugglers then we should be at war with Mexico because they are, in effect, supporting terrorism. SECURE OUR BORDERS, NOW!!!!
25 posted on 11/13/2002 10:32:24 AM PST by MoGalahad
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To: janetgreen
SOME suspicion??

They haven't been following events in Mexico or along the border apparently.

26 posted on 11/13/2002 10:35:52 AM PST by FITZ
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To: Carry_Okie
To sell to people who agree with them, not to wear them themselves, unless they want to. I think it is something to be proud of, whether or not you are white or brown.
I am white, but I am proud of what they are doing, and I wish them all the luck in the world, plus prayers for their saftey.
27 posted on 11/13/2002 10:37:06 AM PST by calawah98
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To: madfly
I realize that, having grown up in the area. My response was to the question of where Mr. Hillerman might be. I agree with 3AngelaD's notion that this story has "great book" potential written all over it.
28 posted on 11/13/2002 10:38:19 AM PST by Lil'freeper
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To: calawah98
Verdana

Verdana

29 posted on 11/13/2002 10:39:28 AM PST by paulklenk
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To: paulklenk
????????????
30 posted on 11/13/2002 10:42:46 AM PST by calawah98
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To: HiJinx
The Tohono O'odham and Navajo Res's are half a world apart?

I've heard said by tourists who have no appreciation for wide open spaces that the Navajo Res is a completely different planet. ;) I happen to love it.

31 posted on 11/13/2002 10:54:37 AM PST by Lil'freeper
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To: Pa' fuera
Yes, here is the link.

Secrets Of The Shadow Wolves: Ancient Skills Meet Modern Crimes
American Indian Skills Used To Track Down Drug-Runners

32 posted on 11/13/2002 10:55:18 AM PST by madfly
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To: Lil'freeper
My mistake, Lil'freeper. I misread your post.
33 posted on 11/13/2002 10:58:29 AM PST by madfly
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To: Hila
Well said. These people are serving their country, while living in conditions that make the Haitian slums look nice. Everyone likes to think that the government "owes" some group something, but in the case of the Indians I think this is true.
34 posted on 11/13/2002 10:59:16 AM PST by zingzang
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To: madfly
No worries. This thread has given me the chance to wax sentimental about my beloved home state, which I miss terribly. If these guys start selling T-shirts, please ping me!
35 posted on 11/13/2002 11:03:55 AM PST by Lil'freeper
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To: Jeff Head; harpseal; SLB; piasa; CARepubGal; Grampa Dave; Travis McGee; AAABEST; Fred Mertz; ...
A good piece of news........too little IMO but a great start NTL.....

Stay Safe !

36 posted on 11/13/2002 12:00:55 PM PST by Squantos
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To: madfly
Problem is why are they getting in here that we need to track them Mad?
37 posted on 11/13/2002 12:10:03 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: Lil'freeper
Ok, I was being a little bit facetious...

That's what I love about Arizona...the Organ Pipe is nothing like the Four Corners is nothing like the Rim Country is nothing like the 'Sky Islands' here in the SE corner of the state.

I just read another of your posts, sorry if I'm making you homesick...would you like a subscription to Arizona Highways or Arizona Wildlife Views?


38 posted on 11/13/2002 12:14:25 PM PST by HiJinx
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To: Squantos
Good posts. Very interesting.
39 posted on 11/13/2002 1:23:20 PM PST by Fred Mertz
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To: Lil'freeper
Half a world away? When I lived out there, it was a day's drive, if that, depending on your vehicle and the absence of state troopers.
40 posted on 11/13/2002 2:34:43 PM PST by 3AngelaD
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To: calawah98
Just testing some colors.
41 posted on 11/13/2002 2:59:41 PM PST by paulklenk
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To: Spiff
We have guys like them all over the border.
42 posted on 11/13/2002 3:34:02 PM PST by Ajnin
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To: 3AngelaD
When I lived out there, it was a day's drive, if that, depending on your vehicle and the absence of state troopers.

I thought distances in that part of the world were measured in units of alcohol: "Tempe? Two six-packs from here, a six-pack and a half if you're in a hurry."

43 posted on 11/13/2002 3:36:57 PM PST by Poohbah
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To: Poohbah
LMAO . . .I thought distances in that part of the world were measured in units of alcohol: "Tempe? Two six-packs from here, a six-pack and a half if you're in a hurry."

When I was young, in the 60's, my girlfriend and I would get off work at 7am Fridays, working at Motorola, and grab 2 eight-packs of baby-coors for our trip to Flagstaff.

For many years I lamented because I had never been out of the West and got invited on a road trip to Indiana. Oh brother, Texax, Okl., Missouri, Illinois all blended together. I was impressed at first that they had green grass growing in the highway dividers and the Mississippi was neat, but then it was all the same. I came home loving this beatiful state with all its many landscapes and history.


44 posted on 11/13/2002 4:00:06 PM PST by madfly
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To: paulklenk
Red?
45 posted on 11/13/2002 7:11:35 PM PST by calawah98
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To: zingzang
bttt
46 posted on 11/13/2002 7:16:43 PM PST by madfly
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To: madfly
I saw the report and even though I live in Brooklyn, New York... I learned more about tracking!!

I was a Boy Scout for many years and I was skilled in stalking; squirrells, not people,...

actually, I was the only one in my troop that could get right next to the tree the squirrell was near and he was still on the ground!!

Sound funny?... try it... find a park, with squirrels and try to get directly behind one with only a tree between you!!

47 posted on 11/13/2002 7:34:41 PM PST by Nitro
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To: sneakypete
Thought you might enjoy this story!
48 posted on 11/13/2002 8:00:25 PM PST by CARepubGal
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To: Squantos
Thanks for the ping!
49 posted on 11/13/2002 10:41:55 PM PST by Grampa Dave
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To: madfly; Poohbah
You've gotta be real careful nowadays, we finally have an open container law. Doesn't mean we don't use the alcohol measurement method, just means we may take more back roads to get where we're going!
50 posted on 11/14/2002 7:50:58 AM PST by HiJinx
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