California Rapid Alert Narcotics Enforcement Agency
Solution: Magic Square

The pictures in the grid all resemble letters (except for the number 34)... The letters in their original configuration are:

34 W  O  R 

D  M  A  G

I  C  S  Q

U  A  R  E

Writing the letters down in their original order gives "34 word magic square", indicating the goal is to rearrange the pictures to form a magic square where each row, column, and diagonal adds up to 34 words. Thanks to an amazing JavaScript DHTML library developed by Walter Zorn, these pictures can be moved around simply by dragging and dropping them.

The "words" in this magic square are the descriptions of each picture, which are given in the "alt" text, echoed in the status bar (on some browsers), and are also available by looking at the HTML source code. The number of words for each description is given in parentheses below:

There are 880 possible arrangements that will result in a total of 34 words in each row, column, and diagonal. Any of these will be accepted. One possible solution is:

16 3  2  13

5  10 11 8

9  6  7  12

4  15 14 1

Which corresponds to the arrangement shown below:

Pressing the Check Solution button with a correct arrangement gives the following message:

Good work, detective!

Some things that you should know:

  • Often, narcotics traffickers secretly encode clues to their whereabouts so that drug dealers can find the traffickers and buy narcotics to sell on the street. The encoding methods for these clues vary widely, but - through extensive experience - Cranea operatives have recognized many common patterns:
    • Farsi
    • ISBN
    • Runes
    • Semaphore
    • The Enigma
    • Letter to number correspondence (A=1,...,Z=26)
    • Ethics Codes
    • Torah Codes
    • Telephone Country Codes
    • Ethernet Codes
    • R Programming Language
    • Signal Flags (US Navy, etc)
    • Linear B
    • ASCII Code
    • Cheat Codes (God Mode, No Clipping)
    • Base-N where N is not equal to 10
    • Zip Code
    • Morse Code
    • Dewey Decimal
    • Hieroglyphics
    • UPC Code
    • Braille
    • Genetic Code
    • Unicode
    • Wingdings
    • Greek
    • Quenya, Sindarin, Chakobsa, Newspeak...
    • HTML Color Codes

    Being familiar with these codes, having reference material on hand, or knowing someone who will look up this information for you, may prove invaluable when you are actually following the trail of a narcotics trafficker.

    Of course, narcotics traffickers will certainly not use all of these codes, and might perhaps use codes that even Cranea Mission Control has not seen before... so direct your study as you see fit.

Looking at the first letters of the encoding patterns on the list spells out "FIRST LETTERS", followed by a bunch of gibberish. It's fun to encode an encoding method with itself : )

Ultimately we didn't end up giving out the reimbursement checks at the halfway point (Marin County Civic Center) because we decided not to have a Cranea agent stationed there. If your team still hasn't got their reimbursement check, bug Brian Chang about it.

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