Operation ‘Cerberus Action’ and the ‘Four Corners’ Prosecution
There is a generally accepted belief that a well publicised prosecution, which results in the conviction of the offenders will deter crime by sending out a ‘clear message’ to those intending to offend. Those who seek to enforce the legal protection of antiquities and archaeological sites will often decry the number of prosecutions brought, and urge a more aggressive prosecution policy against looters and traffickers in antiquities. However a prosecution may not always produce the anticipated outcome of deterrence. In this article a lawyer examines a recent high profile operation undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Land Management against looters and traffickers in the south west of the United States for breaches of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and its outcome. It will begin with a short consideration of the context in which the prosecutions were brought: the scale of looting in the area; the difficulties facing those who have to enforce the law; the legal and historical background, and the belief of many in the area that they have a right to dig for artefacts and to collect or sell them. It will then consider ‘Operation Cerberus Action’ and its consequences in some detail, drawing on contemporaneous newspaper accounts and blog comments to illustrate that a prosecution, even where it results in conviction of all the defendants, may be counterproductive, serving only to entrench existing attitudes rather than encouraging behavioural change in intending looters and traffickers.
KeywordsAntiquities Deterrence Looting Prosecution Sentencing Trafficking
- Antiquities Act 1906. 16 USC § 431–433. Accessible at http://www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/anti1906.htm. Accessed 26 Apr 2014.
- Archaeological Institute of America. (2009). Conversation: the looters next door. Archaeology, 62, 5. Available at http://archive.archaeology.org/0909/etc/conversation.html. Accessed 30 Dec 2013.Google Scholar
- Archaeological Resources Protection Act 1979. 16 U.S.C. § 470aa–mm. Accessible at http://www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/FHPL_ArchRsrcsProt.pdf. Accessed 26 Apr 2014.
- Brosnan, P. (2009). Affadavit and Search warrant application. Available at http://media.bonnint.net/slc/1196/119673/11967340.pdf. Accessed 28 Dec 2013.
- Canaday, T., & Swaine, T. (2005). Operation Indian Rocks, Conducting Inter Agency ARPA Investigations. SAA Archaeological Record, 5, 26–32.Google Scholar
- Carnett, C. (1991). Legal background of archeological resources protection. National Park Service Technical Brief 11. Available at http://www.nps.gov/archeology/pubs/techbr/tch11c.htm. Accessed 28 Dec 2013.
- Culture without Context (2003). Issue 13, 2003, Illicit Antiquities Research Centre, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University. Available at http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/projects/iarc/culturewithoutcontext/issue%2013/news.htm. Accessed 24th Jun 2013.
- DoI, (2009). Federal Agents Bust Ring of Antiquity Thieves Looting American Indian Sites for Priceless Treasures, Press release, Office of the Secretary, US Department of the Interior June 10, 2009. Available at http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/2009_06_10_releaseA.cfm. Accessed 28 Dec 2013.
- Fincham, D. (2011). Looting and Criminal Sentencing in the Four Corner. Illicit Cultural Property blog, May 5. Available at http://illicit-cultural-property.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/looting-and-criminal-sentencing-in-four.html. Accessed 28 Dec 2013.
- GAO (1987). General Accounting Office Problems Protecting and Preserving Federal Archaeology Resources. Washington DC: GAO/RCED-88-3, General Accounting Office.Google Scholar
- Goldenberg, S. (2011). Climate activist Tim DeChristopher due for sentencing, The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jul/26/climate-activist-timdechristopher. Accessed 26 Apr 2014.
- Henetz, P. (2009a). FBI charges 24 in American Indian artefact looting case. Salt Lake Tribune, 10 June. Available at http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12561194. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Henetz, P. (2009b). Redds dodge prison in artifact sentencing. Salt Lake City Tribune, 16 September. Available at http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_13350722. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Hutt, S., Jones, E., & McAllister, M. (1992). Archaeological resources protection. Washington: The Preservation Press.Google Scholar
- Lee, R. F. (1970). The Antiquities Act of 1906. Washington DC: National Park Service.Google Scholar
- Lee, R. F. (2006). The origins of the antiquities act. In I. D. Harmon, F. McManamon, & D. Pitcithley (Eds.), The Antiquities Act. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
- Loftholm, N. (2009). Emotions run hot over artefact raids in Utah. Denver Post 7 July. Available at http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_12765729. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Loomis, B. (2010). Raid drives down demand for American Indian artifacts. Salt Lake Tribune, December 27. Available at http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/50918714-78/says-auction-american-indian.html.csp. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Loomis, B. (2011a). 18 months after Utah raid, do artifact laws stop theft? Salt Lake Tribune January 3. Available at http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50909888-76/blanding-probation-utah-artifacts.html.csp. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Loomis, B. (2011b). Poll: nearly two-thirds of Utahns back crackdown on artefact looting. Salt Lake Tribune, January 28. Available at http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51146063-76/percent-poll-offenders-probation.html.csp. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Loomis, B. (2011c). De Christopher sentenced to prison, 26 protesters arrested. Salt Lake Tribune, July 27. Available at http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52263987-78/dechristopher-federal-leases-trial.html.csp. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Mackey, L. A. (2006). ARPA on private lands: the GE mound case. In S. Hutt, M. P. Forsyth, & D. Tarler (Eds.), Presenting archaeology in court (pp. 47–55). Lanham: Alta Mira Press.Google Scholar
- Main Justice (2009). Hatch rebukes Holder for Indian artefact raid. Main Justice website and blog, June 17. Available at http://www.mainjustice.com/2009/06/17/hatch-rebukes-holder-for-indian-artifact-raid/. Accessed 30 Dec 2013.
- Native American Graves Repatriation Act 1990. 25 U.S.C. § 3001 et seq. Accessible at http://www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/FHPL_NAGPRA.pdf. Accessed 26 Apr 2014.
- Palmer, R. (2007). Federal Prosecutions under the Archaeological resources Protection Act of 1979: A Ten year Review. In S. Hutt & D. Tarler (Eds.), Yearbook of cultural property law (pp. 221–235). Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
- Romboy, D. (2011). Warehouse protects thousands and thousands of looted Indian artefacts. Deseret News, 24 September 2011. Available at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700182124/Warehouse-protects-thousands-and-thousands-of-looted-Indian-antiquities.html?pg = all. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Schiffman, L. (2005). Riding for the Brand. Archaeology 18 August 2005, American Institute of Archaeology. Available at www.archaeology.org/online/features/schalk/. Accessed 12 Jun 2013.
- Swaine, T. (2007). Cultural resource damage on the public land: What the statistics show. In S. Hutt & D. Tarler (Eds.), Yearbook of cultural property law (pp. 201–220). Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
- Swaine, T. (2008). How do you manage your resources if they are being stolen and sold at the swap meet?. In S. Weber & D. Harmon (Eds.), Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World: Proceedings of the 2007 GWS Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites (pp. 100-101). Hancock: The George Wright Society.Google Scholar
- Ulph, J. (2011). The impact of the criminal law and money laundering measures upon the illicit trade in art and antiquities. Art Antiquity and Law, XVI, 39–52.Google Scholar
- United States v Shumway 112 F 3d 1413 (10th Cir. 1997). Accessible at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1116427.html. Accessed Apr 26 2014.
- Wagner, D. (2010). Witness’ death could affect antiquities-trafficking trials. The Arizona Republic, July 5. Available at http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/07/05/20100705looters.html?nclick_check = 1. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.
- Wills, E. (2010). The inside man. Preservation, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 62, 16–23. Available at http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2010/january-february/inside-man.html. Accessed 29 Dec 2013.Google Scholar
- Woodbury, R. B. (1993). Sixty Years of South-Western Archaeology: A history of the Pecos conference. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar