Truck Driver Arrested After Plowing Through Ancient Nazca Lines Archaeological Site in Peru

That’s one expensive wrong turn.

byKyle Cheromcha| UPDATED Feb 1, 2018 4:44 PM
Truck Driver Arrested After Plowing Through Ancient Nazca Lines Archaeological Site in Peru

There are wrong turns, and then there's this: A truck driver was arrested after plowing his big rig through a world-famous archaeological site in Peru known as the Nazca Lines, leaving "deep scars" across a large section of the ancient landscape.

"The Monkey", Creative Commons

Spanning for hundreds of miles across a high plateau in southern Peru, the Nazca Lines are a series of massive, complex geoglyphs carved into the desert floor thousands of years ago by the Nazca people. Some of the lines come together to form gigantic pictures of humans and animals that can only be distinguished from the sky; others stretch out arrow-straight for thousands of feet. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Peru's most prized cultural treasures.

Unfortunately, there are now some new lines in the rocky soil. Local police detained a 40-year-old driver named Jainer Jesús Flores Vigo after he was spotted driving his semi-truck off the nearby Pan-American Highway and across the pristine landscape on Saturday evening. An inspection the next day revealed "deep scars" in the ground and tire damage to three of the ancient straight-line glyphs, according to an official report from Peru's Culture Ministry.

Vigo told authorities he didn't realize the area was a protected site and left the roadway because of a mechanical issue, according to NPR. However, other reports suggested he might have been trying to avoid a toll. Police later released him after a local magistrate determined it couldn't be proved that Vigo intentionally caused the damage, though prosecutors are reportedly appealing the decision.

And though it's not the first time humans have disturbed the Nazca Lines—Greenpeace came under heavy criticism in 2014 after activists trampled an area while setting up a protest banner to be seen by tourist helicopter flights—this latest incident may spark some changes. A spokesman for the Culture Ministry told state-run news agency Andina that officials are considering 24-hour drone surveillance to help prevent future incursions.