Otherworldly Phenomena

The 1950 UFO Crash at El Indio

In Saltillo, the capital of the Mexican state of Coahuila, the newspaper Zócalo had this bold headline in its May 1, 2013 edition, translated into English: “UFOs Appear in the Skies of Piedras Negras and Surroundings.”  According to the article the lights in the sky first appeared near the town of Jiménez, just up the Rio Grande from the city of Piedras Negras which is situated across the river from Eagle Pass, Texas.  At around 9:30 pm on Tuesday, April 50, 2013, several triangular-shaped objects flew overhead at rapid speed heading south along the river.  The small municipal airport at Piedras Negras shuts down daily at 7:00 pm and there were no logged airplane flights coming in or out of that airport at the time of the sighting.  Dozens of eyewitnesses in Piedras Negras saw the triangular crafts fly farther south and by 10 o’clock the residents of the town of Guerrero spotted the strange aerial vehicles.  All who witnessed these bizarre objects in the sky said they were like no aircraft they had ever seen, and they moved way too fast to be conventional airplanes.  The Zócalo article stated that this was not the first time that strange objects had appeared over this specific section of the Rio Grande Valley in Coahuila. In 2010 similar objects were seen in the Piedras Negras area.  A brief survey of the internet shows possible UFO activity in this area as recently as April 2020.

One of the earliest UFO incidents in all of Mexico allegedly took place in this area in December of 1950.  This was during what UFOlogists call the “Golden Age of Flying Saucers,” as many eyewitnesses reported sightings of flying metallic discs in the skies over the United States.  Some of the notable American sightings during this “Golden Age” include the Kenneth Arnold UFO incident near Mt. Rainier, Washington in June of 1947; the flying saucer crash at Roswell, New Mexico a few weeks later; and the multiple sightings of UFOs around Washington DC in July of 1952.  A mere footnote to these more famous encounters on the US side of the border during this time is a more obscure event right across the Rio Grande on the Mexican side just south of Piedras Negras near the small town of Guerrero.  To the UFO researcher, this case is known as “The Crash at El Indio,” named for a Texas town just across the river from Guerrero, Coahuila.  This small Mexican UFO incident involves secret US government documents, a possible international coverup and a thorough investigation in the early 1990s that sought to debunk the whole story.

The 1950 El Indio saucer crash first came on the radar American UFO researchers in December of 1984 when a strange package arrived at the doorstep of a Hollywood film producer named Jaime Shandera.  The parcel, postmarked Albuquerque, contained an undeveloped roll of 35-millimeter film.  Shandera developed the film and found that it contained 8 pages of government documents that were classified two levels above top secret.  This story is famous in the UFO research community and the papers are now known as the Majestic 12 or MJ-12 documents.  These papers were dated November 18, 1952 and are also known as the Eisenhower Briefing, prepared by the outgoing Truman Administration for the newly elected American president, Dwight Eisenhower.  The document describes the creation of the Majestic 12 Group, comprised of 6 military and 6 civilian members, formed with the specific task to oversee and investigate the entirety of the UFO phenomenon.  This Eisenhower Briefing mentioned many details of the Roswell incident of July 1947, but researchers were surprised to see the document touch upon a previously unheard of but similar event that occurred much farther south from Roswell, across the Rio Grande and into Mexico.  Here is what the MJ-12 document had to say about this incident in relation to Roswell:

“On 06 December, 1950, a second object, probably, of similar origin, impacted the earth at high speed in the El Indio-Guerrero area of the Texas-Mexico border after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere.  By the time a search team arrived, what remained of the object had been almost totally incinerated. Such material as could be recovered was transported to the ACE (Atomic Energy Commission) facility at Sandia, New Mexico, for further study.”

“Sandia,” New Mexico referred to Sandia National Laboratories on Kirtland Air Force Base then located on the southern edge of Albuquerque.  Presumably, the wreckage was taken there for further study by the military and the MJ-12 document most likely came out of that same facility, as the Albuquerque postmark on Shandera’s package would corroborate.

Over the years, other pieces allegedly part of the MJ-12 documents have surfaced.  In fact, there are now hundreds of pages of supposedly classified materials that have come to light tied to the Majestic 12 project.  The FBI and the Air Force, along with many UFOlogists and debunkers have declared these documents to be fakes and the whole MJ-12 project an elaborate hoax.  Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist who is considered to be the grandfathers of serious UFO research, agrees that some of the documents associated with MJ-12 that have come out over the past 30 years have been fakes and may have even been created intentionally to muddy the waters of UFO research. Friedman believed that the Eisenhower Briefing of 1952 which mentioned the El Indio UFO crash was indeed real.  In March of 1990 two men sought to prove or disprove what was revealed in this supposed above-top-secret document.  Journalist and editor of the MUFON UFO Journal, Dennis Stacy, teamed up with a man named Tom Deuley.  Deuley who was formerly of the National Security Agency, was in 1990 the administrative assistant to the Mutual UFO Network – or MUFON – of Seguin, Texas.  Stacy and Deuley would make three trips to investigate the El Indio UFO incident.

Before the duo left for Mexico, they tried to get any other information they could about the El Indio crash from sources outside the MJ-12 documents.  They ultimately found a few interesting pieces of information that seemed to support what was mentioned in the 1952 Eisenhower Briefing regarding this Mexican crash. On the very day of the El Indio incident, December 6, 1950, the United States seemed to be dealing with its own spate of UFO sightings.  According to a declassified document prepared for the Secretary of the Defense found in the National Archives, the US was on high alert that very same day in December.  Some 40 unidentified flying objects flying at a high speed at 32,000 feet appeared in the skies over the northeastern United States at 10:30 in the morning on December 6, 1950.  According to the 6-page memo, “there was no reason to believe that the aircraft were friendly.”  The Air Force scrambled interceptors and by 11:04 the situation was diffused before a National Emergency was declared.  President Truman would later write about the incident in his memoirs published in 1979.  Did this unprecedented UFO event have something to do with what happened sometime later that day just across the border?

Dennis Stacy and Tom Deuley conducted their first on-site investigation in March of 1990, first traveling to the incident’s namesake, the town of El Indio, Texas.  They first sought out locals who had lived in the area 40 years earlier who may have had firsthand knowledge of the supposed saucer crash. To their surprise, they met no one in the town who knew anything. The two then crossed the border and traveled to the little town of Guerrero which was closer to the supposed crash site.  Founded by Spanish missionaries in 1702 on what was then the fringes of the Spanish Empire in the New World, Guerrero had always been primarily an agricultural community supporting a population of several hundred to up to 2,000 people. The American UFO researchers first talked to the former mayor of the town, Enrique Ceverra, who had been a young man at the time of the El Indio incident.  Ceverra had no recollection of it but gave the two the name of Rosendo Flores who served as the unofficial town historian. Flores turned out to be a jackpot of information.

Rosendo Flores not only remembered the crash; he was an eyewitness to it. Flores told the researchers that he had been working on his family’s land north of town and in the mid-afternoon he saw “ball of fire fell from the sky” somewhere between his location and the Rio Grande, in the lands of an adjoining ranch belonging to the Griegos family. The crash caused a brush fire.  A few days later a military contingent came down from Piedras Negras and secured the area. Later Flores saw a truck hauling something away.  When asked if any Americans were involved with the takeaway of the wreckage, Flores said he couldn’t tell.  Rumors about the incident swirled around the area, but no one “official” told the locals anything.  Acting on Flores’ information, Stacy and Deuley tried to track down other eyewitnesses, but everyone Flores told them about was either long since dead or not at home.  The researchers returned to the United States to regroup.

Stacy and Dueley made another trip down to Guerrero later in 1990. On the second trip the duo went to the Griegos Ranch to try to find the site of the supposed impact. The ranch had sold, and the new owner knew nothing of the incident.  He did tell the researchers, though, that on his property there was a huge hole that supposedly appeared in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The hole was discovered when ranch hands were clearing brush and it was so large that a tractor fell into it.  The gigantic hole was in the general vicinity of where Rosendo Flores said the fireball had crashed to earth. While gathering information on this second trip the two heard rumors of another UFO crash that supposedly happened 130 miles south of Guerrero at a place called Rio Sabinas in July of 1948. The locals called this the “Tomato Man Incident” because photos supposedly existed of a charred body of an extraterrestrial being amid smoldering flying saucer wreckage.  The photos were, sadly enough, of a human accident victim who had died tragically in a roadside car crash.

In 1994, Stacy and Dueley returned to the Griegos Ranch outside of Guerrero with two other investigators to put the El Indio crash story to rest once and for all.  With the help of locals, they rediscovered the gigantic hole they visited in 1990.  Stacy and Dueley brought metal detectors with them this time in hopes of finding pieces of debris, but they found nothing, not even old nails or bottlecaps.  The researchers later concluded that what they had visited was a natural sink hole and nothing more.  After interviewing a total of 40 people about the El Indio crash, the researchers concluded that there was not enough evidence that the event even happened.

There is one more curious reference to this borderlands UFO incident.  There were other witnesses to the crash on the American side that Stacy and Dueley missed in their thorough investigation of the event.  In the 2011 book, Searching for UFOs by Dillon H. Richards and Janet I. Stirling, the authors write:

“In December 1950, a woman visiting a dude ranch in Texas wrote to her husband about a most unusual incident. She and the other guests and ranch workers had observed what seemed to be an airplane in distress flying overhead. They thought it might have come down over the Mexican-American border. The next day several of the ranch cowboys rode out to see if they could find something. They found wreckage, but it didn’t look like any airplane they’d ever seen. There were bodies strewn about, badly burned. The cowboys said it looked as though the craft had been piloted by children.”

So, what really happened on December 6, 1950 outside this small Mexican town right across the border?  Perhaps there is more to discover in secret US government files or in the storage facilities of government labs.  Ultimately, we may never know the full truth about the little-known El Indio UFO incident.


Berliner, Dan and Stanton Friedman. Crash at Corona: The U.S. Military Retrieval and Cover-Up of a UFO.  Paraview Special Editions, 2004.  We are an Amazon Affiliate. Buy the book on Amazon here:  https://amzn.to/2YJMwxy

Stacy, Dennis. “Crash at El Indio.” Omni, vol. 17, no. 6, Mar. 1995, p. 55+.

Sterling, Janet and Dillon H. Richards.  Searching for UFOs. New York: Rosen Publishing, 2011.

Texas UFO Museum and Research Library

Zócalo newspaper (in Spanish)

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