Column: 'Overkill' in Indian artifact theft case
"The masterminds that conceived last week's massive raid on people suspected of illegally dealing Native American artifacts called their operation "Cerberus Action."

In Greek mythology, Cerberus is the multiheaded dog with snakes on his back and a dragon on his tail who guards the gates of hell and refuses entrance to living humans.

The symbolism was to imply protecting the afterworld from human looters.

The symbolism soon gave way to reality last Wednesday morning when 150 federal agents swooped into the small town (population 3,200) of Blanding and handcuffed 16 suspects — two-thirds of the 24 arrested — and hauled them off to Moab to be arraigned in front of a federal magistrate.

Many folks in Blanding have since wondered if dealing with a multiheaded dog with snakes on his back and a dragon on his tail might have been preferable.

"It was overdone. It was overkill. The people here, the majority of them, feel violated by the heavy-handed Gestapo tactics," said Neil Joslin, owner and publisher of the Blue Mountain Panorama, the Blanding area's weekly newspaper.

The townspeople, he said, are lamenting the fact that there was seemingly no effort to differentiate between suspected artifact dealers who might pose an arrest threat and others who did not."

Get the Story:
Lee Benson: Blanding publisher calls raid 'overkill' (The Salt Lake City Deseret News 6/17)

Relevant Documents:
DOI Press Release: Federal Agents Bust Ring of Antiquity Thieves Looting American Indian Sites for Priceless Treasures | DOJ Press Release: Arrests Made in Operation Targeting Network Selling Stolen Native American Artifacts | Remarks of Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden at a Press Conference

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