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Layton » Utah's U.S. senators say they want Congress to investigate the actions of federal agents who arrested two dozen people for the theft of ancient artifacts stolen from public and tribal lands in the Four Corners area.
Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, both Republicans, said Saturday that the raid was overkill. The two made the comments to the Deseret News during interviews at the state's GOP convention in Layton.
One of the men indicted in the raid, James Redd, 60, was found dead on Thursday in an apparent suicide.
Redd was a physician and charged with one felony count of theft of Indian tribal property. His wife, 59-year-old Jeanne Redd, also was charged.
Of those indicted, 19 are from southern Utah, four are from Colorado, and one is from New Mexico. They range in age from 27 to 78.
BLM and FBI agents assigned to the investigation used a confidential source who came forward in 2006 and paid more than $335,000 during the following two years for 256 stolen artifacts, according to court documents.
Federal indictments accuse the people of stealing, receiving or trying to sell American Indian artifacts including bowls, stone pipes, sandals, arrowheads, jars, pendants and necklaces.
About 300 federal agents, including many from the Bureau of Land Management, were involved in the arrests.
"I'm very concerned about it," Hatch said. "It seems like overkill to me to do that with these people, one a doctor, a pillar of his community. I'd call for a (U.S. Senate) investigation. But I don't chair (and control) the Judiciary Committee."
Bennett and Hatch's comments resonated with delegates from southern Utah at the GOP convention.
"It was Gestapo tactics," said Larry Sorrell, a rancher from San Juan County.
(Redd) was our family doctor," he said. "We've known him a long time. (Federal officials) overstepped their authority big time."
Hatch said he doubts that Democrats will investigate the raid, "but we should."
Bennett said when the Interior Department's budget comes before his appropriations committee, he will be asking questions about how the raid was conducted.
Bennett said it was inappropriate to go into a person's home for 10 hours and search for "just one" relic, and "put them in handcuffs, wearing flak vests and with automatic weapons drawn."