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Charges Filed In Continuing ARPA Investigation

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avatar Charges Filed In Continuing ARPA Investigation
September 11, 2011 04:02PM
Death Valley National Park (CA)
Charges Filed In Continuing ARPA Investigation

In December 2001, a ranger saw two people collecting historic and prehistoric artifacts in the park. Further investigation by BLM, FWS and NPS officers resulted in the service of numerous search warrants, the recovery of over 11,000 artifacts and the convictions of seven individuals and a corporation for violations of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). During the searches and subsequent proffer sessions with one of the defendants, information was obtained concerning the sale of looted archaeological resources to commercial entities in southern California. Based upon this evidence, a covert investigation was begun in 2004 on a southern California gallery by NPS and FWS agents. Numerous commercial transactions of archaeological resources illegally removed from federal lands were conducted with the gallery. During the investigation, the gallery owner, despite knowing the artifacts had been illegally removed from federal and Indian lands, created false documents stating the artifacts had been collected on private land before the passage of ARPA to "launder" the relics. The gallery owner subsequently pled guilty to felony ARPA charges (16 USC 470ee (b) & (d)) and agreed to provide substantial assistance concerning other suspects. Throughout the period from 2007 to 2009, the gallery owner worked on behalf of the government, conducting covert contacts with other dealers. The cooperator completed numerous commercial transactions involving looted and smuggled material that has thus far resulted in the charging of two individuals and one company with felony violations of ARPA. Additional felony ARPA charges are pending against other suspects. The gallery owner was sentenced in September 2009. The defendant was fined $20,000, and, due to the substantial assistance rendered, placed on two years' supervised probation rather than being sentenced to prison.
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