Southwest Colorado artifacts heist suspects arrested

Excerpts:

Federal officials Wednesday announced the two-year undercover investigation and its culmination: indictments of 23 people for alleged violations of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

…U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett L. Tolman described the defendants as “largely excavators, dealers and collectors.”

The illegally obtained 256 relics include decorated Anasazi pottery, an assortment of burial and ceremonial masks, a buffalo headdress, and ancient sandals known to be associated with burials. Federal officials said the artifacts were worth more than $335,000.

… The arrests underscore “how much work we need to do to make sure our cultural heritage is safeguarded,” said Kevin Mack, National Landscape Conservation System Campaign director at The Wilderness Society.