Vandals Punished for Defacing Indian Kitchen Site

An archaeological site, known as Indian Kitchen, southeast of Tucson, Arizona, that was used by members of the prehistoric Hohokam culture as a food-processing area was vandalized in 2009. Recently, six people from Sahuarita were fined $43,000 and sentenced to five years supervised probation as a result of the damage.

The site, which is a massive rock formation that contains 33 mortar holes in the bedrock that were used to grind grain was vandalized with spray-painted graffiti that a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) law enforcement ranger discovered on a routine patrol of the area. A cleanup effort was unsuccessful and the damage estimate was estimated at more than $40,000.

On June 6, all plead guilty to Defacing an Archaeological Resource and five adults were fined $7,848 each, a juvenile involved was required to pay $4,000 in restitution. A BLM investigation led to the prosecution of the defendants, Johnathan Lopez, 23; Andrew Magallanes, 21; Robert Norton, 23; Cynthia Norton, 20; and Vilma Curiel, 22.

“Unfortunately, the damage to this important archaeological site can never be fully repaired,” commented BLM Tucson Field Office archaeologist Amy Sobiech. “We hope, though, that the fines imposed on these six individuals will serve as a deterrent to prevent future vandalism.”

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