June 11, 2009 - Federal authorities indicted 24 people Wednesday on charges of selling, buying or exchanging archaeological artifacts stolen from Native American lands.
According to a news release from the Department of Justice, burial and ceremonial masks, decorated pottery and a buffalo-hide headdress are included.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is quoted as saying, "Let this case serve notice to anyone who is considering breaking these laws and trampling our nation's cultural heritage that the BLM [Bureau of Land Management], the Department of Justice and the federal government will track you down and bring you to justice,"
Salazar was in Salt Lake City, Utah, to announce the crackdown. Officials said the artifacts -- some stolen from grave sites -- were taken from the Four Corners area, where the state borders of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico come together. The area has a rich history of Native American culture.
256 artifacts worth about $335,685 were recovered, in culmination of an investigation that lasted more than two years and included about 150 agents and an insider informer.
If convicted, those indicted face possible sentences of from one to 10 years in prison for violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation.
A tip of the tips hat to Khadijah Rentas, CNN