FARMINGTON — For decades, strange lights in the night sky and mysterious cattle mutilations have sparked rumors of a secret underground alien base near the small northern New Mexico town of Dulce, which is tribal headquarters of the Jicarilla Apache Nation.
A new book, "Dulce Base: the Truth and Evidence from the Case Files of Gabe Valdez," purports to solve the mystery. It claims that humans, not aliens, are behind the strange happenings. The book's author is Greg Valdez, son of former New Mexico State Police Officer Gabe Valdez.
In 1976, ranchers found many mutilated cows, and Gabe Valdez became one of the lead investigators into the case, his son said.
Greg Valdez says his father began a decades-long investigation into the large number of mutilations in northern New Mexico. Prior to his death in 2011, the former police officer determined that the mutilations and strange aircraft were, in fact, human-caused.
After pouring over recently declassified documents, Gabe Valdez concluded that the federal government was using the Jicarilla Apache Nation to test environmental contamination caused by nuclear testing in the late 1960s.
Greg Valdez says this contamination was caused by an experiment known as "Project Gasbuggy" that took place 21 miles southwest of Dulce on Dec. 10, 1967. The project's goal was to identify peaceful uses for nuclear explosions, and it involved the detonation of a 29-kiloton device located 4,227 feet underground. The intent was to release pockets of natural gas that could be used commercially.
Gasbuggy was carried out by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and the El Paso Natural Gas Company, according to the book.
While the device was successfully detonated and gas wells were drilled at the site, the gas was too radioactive for commercial use.
Greg Valdez said his father found out that the federal government conducted the cattle mutilations to determine the effects of radiation from Gasbuggy.
"They were testing the cattle to avoid panicking the public," he said. "They were also testing advanced aircraft from a nearby off-site air base. The aircraft was invisible and silent and used optic camouflage. The technology has since been declassified."
Greg Valdez alleges that several government agencies and military entities, such as the U.S. Air Force, were heavily involved in the cover-up. He says that the CIA and National Security Agency also became involved when Albuquerque businessman Paul Bennewitz discovered evidence of secret military projects on the Kirtland Air Force Base, which also had ties to Dulce.
To protect the secrecy of their operations, Gabe Valdez learned that the government started a disinformation campaign and encouraged rumors about UFOs and aliens, said Greg Valdez.
By 1979, when the government realized Gabe Valdez had discovered the truth about who was behind the strange happenings, they began monitoring him, his son said. He said the family found hidden listening devices in their home.
Aztec resident Brooks Marshall is a UFO enthusiast and local paranormal expert. Marshall has followed reports of the supposed Dulce underground base for years and has attended many symposiums and lectures on the issue.
Marshall believes there is truth to a secret military presence centered around Dulce. But he doesn't think government involvement comes close to explaining the cattle mutilations.
"From early on, the mutilations indicated a technology that we just didn't have," he said. "There was a complete absence of blood, and the incisions looked like microsurgery and laser technology had been used -- technology humans didn't have at the time. Plus, there were no tracks, and other animals -- even predators -- would avoid the carcasses, which also looked like they had been dropped from a very high distance. Many of the bones would be broken."
Marshall said specific organs, like the tongue and reproductive organs, were removed from the cattle. The mutilations still periodically occur, he said.
From his research, Marshall concludes there are two pieces to the Dulce mystery: the cattle mutilations, which he says remain unexplainable, and the government activity.
"It's my opinion that there was an extremely large underground military base," he said. "There's evidence that there was strong military activity there. One theory is that this base housed aliens."
Marshall, who once worked for El Paso Natural Gas, is familiar with the Gasbuggy Project and said he worked with employees who were directly involved with it. While he believe there have been disinformation campaigns conducted by the military to deflect attention from a possible underground base, he doesn't find credence in the theory that the cattle mutilations were the result of government tests for radioactive effects.
"It doesn't make sense that the government would test cattle in that way," he said. "All they'd have to do to test radiation levels is to walk up to the cow with a Geiger counter."