2 charged with painting near ancient rock art in Nevada

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two Nevada men have been indicted on charges of vandalizing an archaeological site after U.S. prosecutors say the pair spray-painted rock formations in a national monument that features petroglyphs — and were caught soon after while still covered in blue paint.

Daniel Plata and Jonathan Pavon, both 25 and from Elko, are charged with conspiracy, destruction of government property and unauthorized damage or alteration or defacement of archaeological resources, U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich’s office said Monday.

Prosecutors say the men “went on a vandalism spree” while on their way to a wedding in September 2019, where they stopped at three different locations on a remote Nevada road and filmed themselves using spray paint to vandalize buildings with their nicknames “Velor” and “Cluer.”

The men then drove into the White River Narrows Archaeological District within Basin and Range National Monument, where Pavon acted as a lookout as Plata spray-painted two large pieces of graffiti, including one near a petroglyph, according to a court documents.

A witness reported the spray painting. When state troopers stopped Plata and Pavon soon after, the men were covered in blue paint and had over 100 cans of spray paint and painting equipment in their car, according to court documents.

The White River Narrows is a winding canyon that is home to one of the largest concentrations of prehistoric rock art in eastern Nevada, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The agency deferred questions about damage from the graffiti to the U.S. Justice Department. Department spokeswoman Trisha Young says the spray paint was removed.

Plata and Pavon made initial court appearances on March 6, prosecutors said.

The men do not yet have listed attorneys to comment on their behalf or publicly listed phone numbers where they could be reached for comment.

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