Thursday, January 09, 2014

Shadow Wolves - an elite team of trackers

While doing the research for my current WIP (work in progress), I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a group of elite trackers who work perfectly into my next Isabella Mumphrey action adventure.

Shadow Wolves are a group of Native American men who are hired by Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help track down drug smugglers and illegals crossing the Mexico border on the Tohono O'odham Indian reservation in Arizona.  Members of this team were even sent to the Middle East by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help track down Al Qaida leaders.

This team is made up of different tribe members: Tohono O'odham, Navajo, Lakota, and Blackfeet. They are the best trackers of human beings. There are nine Shadow Wolves at the Arizona. Mexico border.  The border is seventy-six miles long and encompasses canyons and scrubland.  There are few paved roads.

Not only are they there to find and capture drug drops and mules(the people who carry the drugs on their backs over the border) they are there to find the illegals. Especially, when they are left to wait for another "coyote" to get them the rest of the way through the desert. Many illegals die from heat and dehydration waiting for the next person who is to take them through the desert.

Shadow Wolves are so good at their jobs that Mexican Cartels have put bounties on them. The team not only is tuned to tracking but they have some military training. They carry M-4 rifles and semi-automatic pistols. Watching a documentary on them, they look like a military patrol as they wind their way through the mesquite, creosote, and cactus.

They not only have to watch the land for prints and the plants for fibers, but they need to keep an eye on the hills and rises for spotters. The spotters use night goggles and a mobile phone or radio to to deliver encrypted messages to the mules, telling them where the Shadow Wolves or other law enforcement are. Some mules will tie pieces of carpet to their feet to try and hide their tracks.

When the Shadow Wolves can't follow footprints, they look  for fibers snagged by the thorny plants, studying directions of indentions in the soil and dislodged pebbles, and moisture from carelessly squashed cactus.

Disturbed soil and trees reveals how long since someone stopped to rest. They use the shade of the tree to determine the length of time. The person would have rested in the shade and if the disturbed dirt is now four feet before the shade, they can determine the time. They have been known to follow what looks to be a vanishing trail for twenty four hours and find their man.

The name, Shadow Wolves, reflects how they hunt like a pack of wolves. They may have high tech equipment like rifles and infrared binoculars, but they prefer using the same knowledge their ancestors used to find their enemies.

You can go here to watch the documentary I watch over and over to get information for my book.


Rain Trueax said...

We've been down in those areas many times over many years and they really, the coyotes, changed how it is down along the desert. I am sure you know that south of the border they cut off heads, intimidate whole villages, the cartels have great power. When I was young, we would go down to the regions along the desert and go up the draws looking for pretty rocks, just enjoying ourselves, now it's too dangerous. Near Tucson a place called Silverbell was one of my favorite such places until the cartels began using it as a corridor. There was a mass murder of the illegal workers they had brought up when two such cartels got into a tiff over territory. Just too dangerous to be there now. We went down along the border in the San Rafael Valley in May 2012, lots of photos of that, and that time didn't get 'contacted' but one time we had a militia group come driving up on our vehicle to check us out, then a border patrol guy. It's changed a lot and drug smuggling is as much an issue as bringing across illegal immigrants (and yes, I use that term when it's not PC, but they are up here illegally no matter what anybody wants to say). I had never heard of the native Americans doing this but they are good other places too where it comes to tracking. Oregon had a murder some years back where they brought in the local tribe, but they waited too long and no real signs left. Maybe somebody didn't want the murderer found...

Paty Jager said...

Rain, Thank you for your help on this project. ;)