Two men, who defaced the 4000-years-old White River Narrows petroglyphs in 2019, have been sentenced to prison.
The White River Narrows, located in Nevada near Las Vegas, is an ancient site listed under the National Register of Historic Places. The site is known for its rhyolite canyons and petroglyph galleries which date back to 4000 years ago, though some are as recent as the 19th century. The vast collection of cave art span across 4000 acres of land.
The vandalism occurred between September 14 and October 8 of 2019, during which Jonathon Pavon and Daniel Plata often trespassed into the White River Narrows site. Both men vandalized the wall art by spray-painting their names tag. After the incident came to light, both men were arrested in November of the same year. While legal penalties were usually the punishment for defacing archaeological sites, this was not often enforced. However, this time, the authorities wanted to make an example out of the incident.
The Bureau of Land Management took the lead in the case, investigating throughout the last year into the full extent of the damages. In June this year, the two men pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor conspiracy charge and felony violation. Pavon, who was responsible for a major part of the vandalism, was sentenced to a year and one day in prison in the court hearing last week. Plata, on the other hand, was sentenced to 4 months in prison and 8 months under house arrest.
Jason M. Frierson (U.S. attorney, District of Nevada) said in a statement: “No restitution or repair can undo the damage done by those who would vandalize such a sacred and historical site as the White River Narrows, but this ruling demonstrates that such crimes will not be met with a slap on the wrist. Our office will continue to work to ensure that anyone who desecrates sacred tribal lands and artifacts are held accountable”.