This was brought to my attention by POSP stringer Tim. This will never cease.
"Crackdown on artifact crimes gets results"
September 18th, 2009
September 18th, 2009
A federal government crackdown on black-market Indian artifacts and the looting of dozens of sacred objects from Indian ruins in Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico continued to unfold this week as a mother and daughter were sentenced to three and two years of probation respectively.
Jeanne Redd, 59, and her daughter Jerrica, 37, both of Blanding, Utah, were the first to be sentenced in the Department of the Interior investigation, launched in late 2006. The women pleaded guilty to multiple felonies involving theft and excavation of artifacts and surrendered an antiquities collection of more than 800 objects.
Since the investigation began, 26 people, including several well-known antiquities collectors, have been indicted, according to Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah.
The investigation has included grave robbers looting Native American burial grounds, two suspects committing suicide and pre-dawn raids by federal agents, Rydalch says.
"It's like a Tony Hillerman book unfolding right before our very eyes," Rydalch noted, referring to popular detective novels based on the Navajo Nation.
Jeanne Redd is the widow of James Redd, a physician and antiquities collector who committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning one day after his arrest in June court records show. Steven Shrader, 56, of New Mexico shot and killed himself in Illinois in June, the same day he was scheduled to appear in federal court in Salt Lake City.
Search warrant affidavits filed at the U.S. District Court in Utah say the case began after "a major dealer in archaeological artifacts" agreed to work with federal investigators. The affidavits say investigators were able to penetrate a secretive network of illicit diggers and dealers because the informer, identified only as "the Source," had numerous connections.
In the course of the probe, affidavits say, "the Source" purchased sacred Hopi kachina masks, Navajo pendants, Pueblo pottery and other artifacts from more than two dozen figures.
In Arizona, where no arrests have been made to date, several collectors surrendered artifact collections after federal investigators came with search warrants this summer, said Beth Grindell, director of the Arizona State Museum in Tucson. She described the collections as "quite sizable."
Grindell and Rebecca Tsosie, executive director at Arizona State University's Indian Legal Project, said looters do tremendous scientific damage that also is devastating to Native American tribes.
Brett Tolman, U.S. attorney in Utah, said the probe is far from over. "I hope we've accomplished a deterrent effect that will have an impact on the black market," he said.
War and cultural heritage