Back in late-2009, I traveled with good friend Greg Bishop to Angel Fire, New Mexico, where we were both due to speak at a conference in town – Greg on UFOs and me on Cryptozoology. Before heading out of Albuquerque for the gig, however, we met for lunch with a man named Gabe Valdez, who – while serving in a position of authority and significance with the New Mexico State Police in the 1970s – had been heavily,and officially, involved in the investigation of New Mexico-based cattle-mutilation incidents. Well, now comes the very sad news from Greg that Gabe has passed away.
But, Gabe’s legacy, his investigations of the mute kind, and his place within the history of this curious phenomenon will not be forgotten. Indeed, we can learn a great deal about the work of Gabe, his theories on cattle-mutilations, and much more from studying official files on the man’s discoveries, courtesy of none other than the FBI – one of several official U.S. agencies that took a close look at the grisly mystery in the 1970s.
A February 1979, 4-page Airtel from Forrest S. Putman, the then-FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge at Albuquerque, to the Director of the FBI described the way in which Valdez theorized the mutilations took place: “Information furnished to this office by Officer Valdez indicates that the animals are being shot with some type of paralyzing drug and the blood is being drawn from the animal after an injection of an anti-coagulant. It appears that in some instances the cattle’s legs have been broken and helicopters without any identifying numbers have reportedly been seen in the vicinity of these mutilations.”
Putman continued: “Officer Valdez theorizes that clamps are being placed on the cow’s legs and they are being lifted by helicopter to some remote area where the mutilations are taking place and then the animal is returned to its original pasture. The mutilations primarily consist of removal of the tongue, the lymph gland, lower lip and the sexual organs of the animal. Much mystery has surrounded these mutilations, but according to witnesses they give the appearance of being very professionally done with a surgical instrument, and according to Valdez, as the years progress, each surgical procedure appears to be more professional.”
Valdez had uncovered something even stranger, the FBI noted: “Officer Valdez has advised that in no instance, to his knowledge, are these carcasses ever attacked by predator or scavenger animals, although there are tracks which would indicate that coyotes have been circling the carcass from a distance.”
And there was even more mystery to follow, as FBI records declassified under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate. Special Agent Putman proceeded to inform the Director of what officialdom was telling Valdez about the mutilations: “He also advised that he has requested Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory to conduct investigation for him but until just recently has always been advised that the mutilations were done by predatory animals. Officer Valdez stated that just recently he has been told by two assistants at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory that they were able to determine the type of tranquilizer and blood anti-coagulant that have been utilized.”
Putman then spelled out for the Director the sheer scale of events, as explained by Valdez: “Officer Valdez stated that Colorado probably has the most mutilations occurring within their State and that over the past four years approximately 30 have occurred in New Mexico. He stated that of these 330, 15 have occurred on Indian Reservations but he did know that many mutilations have gone unreported which have occurred on the Indian reservations because the Indians, particularly in the Pueblos, are extremely superstitious and will not even allow officers in to investigate in some instances. Officer Valdez stated since the outset of these mutilations there have been an estimated 8,000 animals mutilated which would place the loss at approximately $1,000,000.”
Whatever lies at the heart of the cattle-mutilation mystery remains precisely that: a mystery. But if, one day, we do solve the puzzle to the satisfaction of everyone, there’s no doubt in my mind at all that Gabe Valdez will be shown to have played a pivotal role in helping us find the answers.