Cactus Jack’s “sweet success”.

“Cactus Jack” Trosper, owner of the Rainbow Computer Emporium and weekend prospector recently completed negotiations with Chinese candy giant SJI&T (Shantou Jinnanhua Industry and Trade Co, LTD) for the mineral rights to his claim in the Cleveland National Forest south of Lake Henshaw on the Santa Ysabel Reservation.

It all started in the spring of 2007. “Cactus Jack” was gold prospecting in a remote area of the fifteen thousand acre San Ysabel Nation Reservation. Working his way up a creek in a deep canyon he spotted a large white boulder partially submerged in a pool of water. The boulder had fallen from a gleaming white outcrop near the top of the canyon wall. The outcrop looked like quartz and quartz can contain gold veins or gem pockets. As Jack approached the boulder he saw that it was buzzing with bees, wasps, butterflies and other insects. Several hummingbirds were also flitting about occasionally swooping in to drink from the pool. The mineral seemed to be melting. It was like nothing Jack had ever seen. He took a test sample.

The following week Jack took the sample to CSUSM geology professor Dr. Yip. Dr. Yip immediately recognized the sample as mineral sugar. He was skeptical that the sample had actually come from California since this extremely rare mineral form of sugar was known to occur in only two locations, both in China. When Cactus Jack assured him that the sample was indeed local, Dr. Yip became very excited.

Mineral sugar is used in traditional medicine throughout much of Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe and sells for over $10 an ounce. Jack’s five-pound sample was worth well over a thousand dollars on the Beijing exchange. The two men agreed to form a partnership. Cactus Jack negotiated mineral rights with the San Ysabel Reservation Tribal elders, Yip discretely made contact with the owners of the mineral sugar mines in China.

Mineral sugar forms in a unique manner. Millions of years ago a freshwater dessert marsh formed in the bed of an ancient dry salt lake. A reed-like plant, much like sugar cane, covered the marsh during wet winter seasons and died out during the dry summers. Year after year the winter storms buried the dead reeds in a layer of sand that prevented bacteria from consuming their sugar. Over millennia the sugars mixed with salt and percolated through the soil to the bedrock where the salt and sugar solution became trapped. The salt and sugar separated into distinct layers, dried out and, over time, became buried under hundreds of feet of sediment hardening into two distinct strata with the mineral sugar being the bottom layer. As the land uplifted and eroded, ground water carried most of the salt layer away leaving behind only the layer of solid mineral sugar.

The Reservation Elders agreed to share the mineral rights equally with Jack and Dr Yip. A Chinese survey team determined the fifteen to twenty foot thick deposits covered nearly twelve acres. The total amount of mineral sugar in the San Ysabel deposit was four times the known Chinese reserves. The value of the San Ysabel mineral sugar reserves at current prices is estimated to be over six billion dollars.

SJI&T will not begin extracting minerals at the San Ysabel mine site until the two mines in China become too costly to operate. They will continue to control the production keeping prices high, much like the DeBeers once controlled the diamond trade.

In late March this year the checks for the first quarterly installment of the several million dollar a year mineral rights lease payments were formally presented at a private gala held at “The Eagles Nest”, (San Ysabel Nations Casino and Resort) in the mountains overlooking Lake Henshaw. “Cactus Jack”, Dr. Yip, the Tribal Elders and the representatives from SJI&T celebrated long into the night.

“Cactus Jack” said he plans to keep operating The Rainbow Computer Emporium for the foreseeable future although he and Dr. Yip have already started a new venture. “We bought two hundred acres of vineyard east of Temecula” Jack told our reporter. “We’re tearin out the grapes and plantin commercial grade marshmallow trees,” Jack continued. “They grow them standard size and cocktail marshmallows just about everywhere but the only place they can grow the commercial size marshmallows ( average size ten pounds) that bakeries and candy makers use is in the Maya Mountains of Belize. The soil and climate in our Temecula vineyards is identical to those in the marshmallow groves of Belize. We start plantin this spring.”

Don’t bet against “Cactus Jack”.