"Dust Wars" can have multiple interpretations.
Changes from day to day when it's ongoing. The most persistent and aggressive are generally young males of approximately college age.
The phenomenon generally consists of a large number of motor vehicles, often from outside of the local area, cruising through neighborhoods, spreading a variety of noxious chemicals of unknown composition and variable effects. It may be that most of these chemicals are relatively harmless in and of themselves as they are broadcast, but operate in synergy with other chemicals that are more target-specific.
Various spreader technologies have been observed, but most seem to be based on the "vaned spinner particle spreader" -- miniaturized and motorized -- which is seen in most "Speedy Green" type of lawn-fertilizer spreaders, using a tube duct for directional control. Contrast and compare with the miniaturized "pitching machine" concept.
Others deploy their noxious chemicals by flinging it by hand out of clear glass vials, of about the size and type issued by various churches to carry "holy water", or for that matter, commonly used to distribute doses of narcotics (10 cc screw-cap vial).
There are various vendors on the WWW offering a product they call Goofer Dust.
This is a low-intensity operation on urban terrains and should be considered terrorism and/or riot and reported as such to authorities at all levels of chain-of-command. Technically this qualifies as "active area denial" in the same category as a gas attack. Yet it must be understood: this is in no way a direct military attack by legitimate armed forces of national powers. This is, in fact, madness, or some form of riot or mass hysteria, taking up strange arms. Yet though this may be madness or some form of riot or mass hysteria, such things do not occur in a vacuum. Things happen for reasons, and this sort of thing tends to have an instigating force, and sometimes a directing force. From all points of view -- law-enforcement, or military strategic and tactical -- the important thing is to carefully track things back to the source.
Keep in mind that this sort of thing comes and goes in waves. Generally, it plays out as if part of a psychological warfare operation. A day or two of operations occurs, about enough time to get into the reporting chain, and then operations cease and responders observe little or nothing and then consider it false reporting and stand down. As they stand down, another wave occurs. This may be seen in the same light as tactical deception operations, such as the infamous "half-sized paratroopers" operation used so effectively against the German military in WWII in the North African and Mediterranean theaters. See also the fable about "the boy who cried 'wolf'".
Unfortunately, tactical deception operations are generally a prelude to significant escalations.
Perhaps it's a pack of intentionally deluded people acting out of what is effectively insanity; there are indeed quite a lot of outpatients who live here to take advantage of low-cost housing.
Perhaps it's politically motivated. Perhaps it's spies. Perhaps it's motivated by racism or religion. Perhaps it's personal in some cases, but mostly it appears to be fairly random.
Whatever the case, it usually takes the form of people flinging noxious substances out of the open windows of their cars, into the open windows of oncoming vehicles.
This is Plausibly Deniable and exceptionally difficult to detect or prosecute. It used to be fairly commonplace on occasion down in the District of Columbia in the late 1980s. Generally that was either harassment or provocation, although in some instances the intention was to coat a target for surveillance with a very fine powder which was florescent as viewed through special equipment and illuminated with ultraviolet light.
The best way to deal with this, of course, is to contact Homeland Security and tell them you've just noticed criminal illegal aliens spreading around some sort of noxious powder. Then remind them about the Anthrax Attack and also remind them that Al Qaeda is known to have been aggressively seeking to acquire allies already entrenched in US society.
April 02, 2011, approximately 5:10PM, female exits onto Parkland Drive from Ride-On 48 bound for Rockville. Pretends to adjust shoulder strap of bag, fires dust launcher (tube type, probably compressed-air operated), hits this reporter in the eyes from a range of about 100 feet. Chemical effects are noted instantly, a flash of disorientation and rage, mostly rage. Female continues walking east on Heathfield Road, turns north on Oakvale Street, headed into a known hotbed of hostile illegal aliens who are primarily notable for their despicable and cowardly instigation in Dust Wars. Female description: dark to medium complexion central-american native/european mix with dark hair and dark eyes, height about 5 feet five inches, heavy build (so fat that their ass flaps when they waddle), dark jacket, backpack, jeans, carrying a white grocery type bag.
This seems to have mostly died down, for now. Mostly. For now...
As always, there are a limited number of persons who simply can't stop spraying noxious weaponized dusts at targets which may be selected effectively at random, or on the basis of racism, perception of class differences, or sometimes on the basis of personal antipathies. The relative scarcity of such individuals constantly carrying on in this way may indicate that this is primarily a hobby of young-adult "gangsta" types and "wannabees".
Yet in recent weeks, we've seen a lot of incidents where parked and unoccupied vehicles are dusted by actual convoys. Individual cars pass and spray dust, at parked cars, in convoys which may be spread out and distributed throughout other traffic, or which may cruise in tight order in groups of as many as 5 more vehicles.
The noxious dust is thrown by the handful into the cabin air intake. I should mention that this dust has a strange odor which is a little like shellfish with a dash of peanuts. It's probably a mixture of everything known to provoke deadly anaphylactic shock in sensitized persons.
The idea is apparently that rather than directly attacking a target which might identify prepetrators and potentially bring them to justice, why not leave a nasty surprise for the target. They start their car and turn on the air-conditioning, and get a blast of nasty in the face.
It is strongly recommended that susceptible persons should at all time carry adrenaline, epinephrine or comparable auto-injectors, and travel in the company of persons trained in emergency administration of anti-allergenic compounds.
As usual, the characteristics of persons involved "morphs" day to day. However, most persons observed have been driving relatively new and well-equipped construction-style work trucks, and most persons observed are young, male, and clearly native-americans from Central or South America.
But who is supplying them, and who gives them orders? That would be the ultimate target for most unfriendly investigation.
2009 October 3 as of 10:45 AM, all two "asians" (can't make out ethnicity, likely ethnic Han Chinese not from China) seen in motor vehicles launched massive dust attacks out of window. One such saw this reporter driving along, very quickly grabbed something from vehicle center (shifter) console, raised to mouth, blew through straw. Ridiculous as this sounds, looks like "classic ninja poison dust attack". No known reasons for this.
2009 September 23 two "latina" females of college age stood at the southbound route 48 bus-stop at Parkland Drive and Marianna Drive, approximately 4:40-5:00PM. Threw handfulls of obnoxious dust and small particulate matter at passing vehicles, making strange hand gestures (like gang signs) at face level. This went on for 20 minutes. One short plump latina boarded the bus, one taller slim latina returned the way she came, headed east on Heathfield Road.
2009 May 13 some initial "patrols" were observed. Traffic patterns in this area are pretty predictable and when they are disrupted it's pretty easy to observe. Also, the gang sign is being given, and here's the sign. It's people hanging their arms out of the windows as if they were giving the signal for "slowing or stopping", as in Maryland motor-vehicle laws. Contrast and compare to the comparable driver signals for "left turn" and "right turn".
As a rule, "Dust War" activity is instigated as a mask for other activity, generally extremely criminal and malicious in nature. The whole idea is to take observers off of the street.
First observed instance of an escalating dust war this year was 2008 June 17 at approximately 1520 hours. Multiple vehicles, drivers of all ethnicities and both sexes, all along the heavy commuting routes of Bauer Drive, Parkland Drive, Heathfield Road, and Aspen Hill Road.
2008 June 18, seems mostly abated as of noon. Let's be sure not to Cry Wolf.
2008 June 20, still ongoing but generally limited to a fairly small number of participants. Interestingly, the people who are still at it seem to have a sort of uniform. A variety of vehicles seem to be in play. Most of these tend to be late 1990s or early 2000s small import cars, such as Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, etc., though at least one silver/gray Lexus is in play, as well as some fairly distinctive full size Jeep SUV (Cherokee etc.) The one thing most seem to have in common is a black baseball cap with white or silver lettering. There may be a relative few actors in this sharing a fairly large pool of vehicles. Both the vehicles and the people driving them seem to be fairly recent arrivals to the neighborhood, so this could be some sort of off-season college prank. Most participants seem to be in that collegiate or immediately post-collegiate age range of about late teens to mid 20s. The way these things go, in the next few weeks the phenomenon will "morph", and it might be exclusively older folks.
A tentative theory is that the original phase was a wave of people passing through trying to muddy some trails behind them, comparable to leading a pursuer across a colony of red ants. The first person doesn't much get stung but everyone following will be stepping into a pile of jumbo anguish. Under this theory, what's going on right now is, by analogy, angry ants biting each other because there's nothing else to bite and the perpetrator of their ire is long gone.
2008 June 27, mostly this has died down, though some incidents continue to occur. As expected, this has morphed into a phase evidently striving to operate outside of previous description. It seems to be mostly some sort of ethnic thing right about now, mostly coming from middle-aged native-americans with the same sort of features as Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Although speculation is ultimately useless, it wouldn't be going too far to think of this as a sort of "quality of life/denial of services attack", to use an internet paradigm. One might also tend to be reminded of the tale of "Cadmus and the Dragon's Teeth".
2008 June 30, there's simply no point in discussing this anymore. Visitors to the area simply need to keep in mind that the place is overrun with factions of people whose main weapon appears to be surrealism imposed on the unsuspecting to the point of inducing madness or dusting with noxious or psychoactive chemicals until it's impossible to distinguish what is the nature of reality or what is happening within reality. Tourists are advised to select other destinations than anyplace in the vicinity of the Greater Washington DC Metropolitan Area. In particular, both tourists and businesspersons are advised in the strongest possible terms to under no circumstances set foot in, or do business in, Montgomery County in general and Aspen Hill and environs in particular.
My experiences in the past all point to the one thing that is known to work: Starve them out and make them spend every last resource as they starve.
First observed instances were right after the end of the school year, and continued throughout the summertime to at least the end of August.