MYSTERY WIRE — Twelve years ago on May, 14, 2008, something strange blazed across the sky and crashed on the banks of the Colorado River south of Needles, California. Within days, reports about the so-called Needles UFO went all over the world. The news brought many people to the area, including Men in Black types.
These are shadowy men doing shadowy work for the government. Work you might have actually seen them doing over the years and not even realized. They drive strange unmarked vehicles with the blacked out windows and an array of antennas on the outside.
When the crash and investigation took place in 2008, rumors and encounter accounts started spreading through Needles about odd, military style convoys going through town. One man in Needles said, “One of the four-wheel drive trucks with the shell on the back had the bumps, radar domes, things like that.” Another person added, “They’ve been seen in the area over the past several months and sometimes in you know, many of them, not just one or two.”
Ex-police officer Frank Costigan says he chatted with one outside the grocery store, “He’s wearing a uniform shirt that says Nevada Test Site. I ask, ‘Where exactly is it?’ Never dawned on me that was Area 51. This is Area 51.”
It turns out the strange convoy and people driving them have nothing to do with UFOs, but those vehicles are definitely carrying out a secret and important mission for the U.S. government.
The government agents carry a badge from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This is the branch of the Department of Energy responsible for nuclear weapons.
The NNSA has a constant presence in Nevada, particularly at the test site, but it has a little known elite component called the Office of Secure Transportation (OST). This is the special unit created to transport nuclear weapons and weapons grade material since its creation in 1975.
Its convoys have logged more than 110 million miles without any serious incidents, carrying the world’s deadliest cargo, right through cities like Las Vegas, and only a handful of people are in the know.
“We’re not trying to hide anything for anyone, we’re not also trying to, you know, be, you know, be too over (the top).” This was OST Operations Manager Mike Flynn. He says the OST walks a fine line between openness and secrecy. Its existence is not a secret, but its work is classified by necessity. The office even has a public website where you can learn more about its work and even check to see if there are any job openings.
They think that we’re doing all types of different business and anything from hauling aliens to hauling in a batch shipments of whatever it is that needs to be placed by the government somewhere. And for the record, no aliens. Haven’t transported an alien.Mike Flynn. OST Operations Manager (2008)
In 2008, OST moved into what’s called Area 12 of the Nevada Test Site for specialized training. The 1200 employees of OST train around 800 hours a year. They are excellent drivers and marksmen. Many of the trained agents are ex-military Special Forces and combat hardened.
To work for the OST, they must pass rigorous background checks, psychological tests, and a grueling 21 week Academy. During their 800 hours of training a year, they prepare for anything they might encounter on the road from drunk drivers to hijackers to terrorists.
Flynn said, “They’re well capable, and there’s significant numbers of them on each shipment. We trained to that level so that we could use deadly force as necessary to protect those weapons.”
OST won’t say what kind of firepower each convoy carries, but it is considerable. There are high tech defenses inside the vehicles along with the best communication systems in the world.
Some OST vehicles are so sophisticated that in the unlikely event the agents become incapacitated, the trucks can defend itself and kill anyone who tries to hijack its cargo.
There is a sprawling complex tucked into the foothills northeast of Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. It used to be known as the Lake Mead Base. It’s now called Area 2 and is one of the three largest military weapons storage sites in the nation.
It’s bunkers packed with bombs and explosives the world’s best fighter pilots use to train with. But behind the triple wide fences and serious warning signs are hardened tunnels that cut deep into the earth. And for many years these tunnels held one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in existence.
As a matter of policy, the government won’t confirm or deny this, but it’s believed there were at one time more than 200, and perhaps as many as 1000, of the most terrible weapons ever built. Area 2 is located within 10 miles of downtown Las Vegas.
When the atomic testing program was at its peak, the bombs being exploded at the test site about 60 miles to the west were stored until needed at Area 2. More recently, the devices have been reconfigured to be used in non nuclear testing at Area 52, the Tonopah Test Range. After the U.S. government signed treaties to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, the bombs needed to be transported to be dismantled. This was one of the OST’s responsibilities.
Before the late 2000’s, OST did not, as a rule, alert local agencies when it’s coming through with a special cargo. But in recent years, it’s developed an outreach program to state and local law enforcement so it could get local emergency help if needed.
Since 2008, the KLAS I-Team went back to the Needles are and found more people who remember seeing the crash and remember seeing the mysterious helicopters and convoys. Below, you can watch reports from 2009 and 2010.