"Sheriff" Salazar rounds up some artifact rustlers

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In his first few weeks as Secretary of the Interior, former Colorado Senator Ken Salazar was fond of sporting his cowboy hat and declaring that there's a new sheriff in town -- even though the work at hand didn't lend itself to quick draws, as explained in my feature "The Zen of Ken."

But now the sheriff has come up with some actual rustlers in the Four Corners area. At a press conference June 10 in Salt Lake City, Salazar was joined by various Justice Department, FBI and Interior officials to announce indictments and arrests of 24 defendants accused of trafficking in illegally obtained Indian pottery, burial masks and other artifacts worth an estimated $335,000. The bust, which included defendants in Durango as well as Utah, was the culmination of two years of undercover work, which means it actually started under the Bush administration.

"Let this case serve notice to anyone who is considering breaking these laws and trampling our nation's cultural heritage that the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Justice, and the federal government will track you down and bring you to justice," Salazar said.

Got that, varmints? If only cleaning up the Interior Department itself was this easy.

For more on the Four Corners case, go here.

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