Mapimí Silent Zone – Ceballos, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Mapimí Silent Zone

Ceballos, Mexico

A US military accident created the legends behind this Mexican version of the Bermuda Triangle. 


Four kilometers from San Ignacio, Mexico, in an area also known as the “Trino Vertex” is the Silent Zone or Zona del Silencio. Frequently compared to the Bermuda Triangle – both are located between parallels 26 and 28 and have similar legends – the legends say radio waves can not be transmitted in certain areas of the silent zone due to local magnetic fields, aliens, and “earth energy” among other explanations. The story of how these stories came to be is much stranger, and more interesting than the paranormal legends would suggest.

On July 11, 1970 an Athena rocket being used in a training exercise by the US Air Force lost control, accidentally invaded Mexican air space, and landed in the desert region of Durango hundreds of miles from the planned destination. The rocket was carrying two small containers of Cobalt 57, a radioactive element. Immediately, a team of covert specialists arrived to find the fallen rocket. The aerial search extended over three weeks. Finally, when the rocket was found, a road was made to transport the wreckage, as well as a small amount of contaminated top soil. All these operations were made under a fair amount of security, spurring rumors and myths, among the locals about what was happening.

A local named Jaime was hired as “Capitán” to guard the rocket while the US prepared to take it back, which after a couple of weeks of preparation, they did. However, Jaime had rather liked the attention and money that the missile had brought, and began playing up the rumors that the strange incident had generated.

The landowners, and potential hotel builders, all agreed that this was indeed very “special” land. A handful of scientists were then said to have confirmed these strange phenomena – though these studies are, unsurprisingly, very difficult to find – and the legend was formed.

Among the legends: radios didn’t’ work there, inside a silent zone (these zones drift over time, so can be hard to “find”) you cannot hear the conversations of other people, very tall people in “tight silver suits” are often seen (this may have held some truth: during the missile cleanup in that people might have seen men in silver biosuits), it is a pole where “Earth energy” is concentrated, “light” spheres could be seen flying over the zone, UFO’s land here, and so on.

The phenomena is now claimed to have been first reported in the 1930s by Francisco Sarabia, a Mexican pilot, who claimed that his radio had mysteriously failed to function while flying over the zone. Similar claims have been made by other persons who have visited the zone, (though only after the missile accident) that radio signals didn’t work and compasses were unusable. Other claims are that the area attracts meteorites and causes various mental problems.

People now come from all over to experience the area, look for the ever illusive “silent zones”, and sometimes attempt communication with otherworldly beings. Though visitors may be surprised to find their compasses and radios working just fine, an experienced guide will remind them that since the zones move, it can be hard to locate them.

Unfortunately, these new age and paranormal enthusiasts, known locally as zoneros or silenciosos, are now having an adverse effect on the desert area that contains the silent zone. By collecting and keeping both natural and historical artifacts they find in the desert, they are depleting the area of finite natural and historical resources. They have also caused some irritation to the Mapimí Biosphere Reserve an ecological research station, which is concerned about being associated with either the silent zone or the “zoneros.”

The locals tend to find the whole thing very strange and rather funny. From a report on the zone “Upon being asked where la Zona could be found, a local rancher told a carload of people that they needed to keep following the road until they saw Martians jump from one side of the road to another. The amazing part, he commented later, was that they thanked him. Another group of zoneros arrived at the field station and asked one of the workers how to get to the Zone. The young fellow, struggling to be polite and truthful at once, only replied, “Nunca van a llegar or “You are never going to get there.”

Know Before You Go

Nothing else, just wanted to correct "desserts" to "deserts" and a couple other minor things.

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