Drugs, Guns and Dirt

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Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#1  Postby LarryKS » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:06 pm

http://www.archaeology.org/0903/etc/drugs.html

Drugs, Guns and Dirt
by Samir S. Patel

Methamphetamine fuels a new epidemic of looting
Image
These Anasazi human-hair leggings, which were illegally taken from federal land, started the investigation that led agents to a dealer who traded in both meth and antiquities. Only one other pair like them is known. (Courtesy Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico)

In April 2004, agents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service surrounded a trailer outside Grants, New Mexico, to execute a search warrant.

A couple of weeks earlier, "N" (who asked that his real name not be used), the BLM case agent for archaeological crime in New Mexico, received a tip that an exceptionally rare pair of Anasazi leggings made of human hair had been stolen from a private home. The leggings had been found on federal land, making their sale, transport, or possession a crime. Officers quickly identified the thief and "flipped" him, that is, they got him to help catch the person to whom he sold the leggings. The agents set up a controlled buy--they had the thief repurchase the leggings using marked bills, and then obtained a search warrant to retrieve the money.

As the agents stormed the trailer, the suspect ran out the back, where the cover team stopped him at gunpoint. "What are you guys here for?" he said. "Are you here for the meth?"

The Buffalo Soldier case, in which old-school treasure hunters crossed a legal line from collecting to looting (see "The Case of the Missing Buffalo Soldier"), was an anomaly, according to N. Most of his cases come from the poverty-stricken trailer parks of Farmington, Bloomfield, and Aztec in the state's archaeology-rich northwest corner. But history buffs aren't his targets: "All I've been dealing with is tweakers," he says, using the slang term for methamphetamine addicts, who loot sites for artifacts they can sell or trade for more drugs. The locus of archaeological crime in the Southwest and across the nation is shifting into the world of drugs and guns. It is a far cry from the traditional, familial world of pot hunters and metal detectorists.

In the trailer home of the human-hair leggings suspect, N and the other agents found a pound and a half of meth (with a street value of a few hundred thousand dollars, depending on how it was cut), at least five loaded firearms, and 16 pounds of marijuana. On the kitchen counter, where he cut meth for sale, and on shelves around the house were at least 30 or 40 intact prehistoric Anasazi pots. "You could see what he was doing his business in," says N. "This was the perfect example of how the drug trade has overlapped with the illegal artifact trade."

Image
Federal agents investigating illegal antiquities found Anasazi pots--presumably acquired in exchange for drugs--on the same counters where methamphetamine was cut for sale. (Courtesy Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico)

Meth--crank, ice, crystal, glass--is a cheap, nasty stimulant and one of the most addictive and destructive of all drugs. It can be injected, smoked, snorted, or swallowed and causes feelings of high energy and euphoria, in addition to paranoia, delusions, and violent behavior. In many parts of the country, it is a major player in the hard-core drug culture.

In the Southwest, antiquities are what a stolen car stereo might be in New York--an untraceable commodity of the criminal underground. "This is what the West has, so this is what the West gives up for its drugs," says N. Artifacts can be looted from remote public lands near impoverished communities with acute drug problems, and there is an infrastructure of shady galleries and trading posts that can "launder" them for sale. A kind of strange synergy is developing with meth in particular that puts every archaeological site and collection at greater risk. Law enforcement officials in the Southwest even have a term for those who combine tweaking and digging--"twiggers."

The looting-meth connection is reported by federal archaeologists and law enforcement officers across the region. "It's not a straw man," says Garry Cantley, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. "I've seen it."

An interagency undercover operation--code-named Silent Witness--in the late 1990s and early 2000s resulted in 12 indictments and convictions and revealed a network of twiggers linked by a single meth dealer, according to Phil Young, a former agent with the National Parks Service. It was one of the first times federal authorities saw the connection first-hand. "It was a very destructive process to the cultural resource, and of course to the individuals as well," says Young.

Blythe Bowman, a criminologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has conducted a worldwide survey of archaeologists to gauge their experience with looting. At first she knew nothing about the connection with meth, but it emerged in her data. More than a dozen archaeologists from all over the country volunteered the same information--that they had heard about meth and artifacts from local law enforcement, or had direct contact with tweakers in the field. "It's not something I went looking for," she says. "I was extraordinarily shocked. I had to read it several times." And her results did not come from the Southwest alone--reports came in from California, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oregon, Georgia, and other places. "It seems to be everywhere," she says. There were drug problems before the rise of meth, but not a particular tie to looting. The looting-meth nexus probably has much to do with the drug itself.

Meth addicts build a tolerance, so they have to take more and more--and need more money--to continue achieving a high. Meth provides a surplus of energy that tweakers need to work off, as well as increased focus and obsessive sorting behaviors: they might stare at a patch of carpet for hours, meticulously clean and reclean a kitchen, or repeatedly dismantle and rebuild home electronics. The energizing and obsessive effects make it fun, almost pleasurable, for tweakers to do the tedious work of artifact hunting. They have the steam to wander sites and dig holes for hours, the focus to scan the ground closely, and the compulsive need to find more and more. According to those who have spoken to twiggers directly, the ability to sell artifacts seems almost secondary to the addictive thrill of discovery. It makes them the perfect, tireless looting workforce.

Image

Image
Over the past decade or so, the illegal antiquities trade in the Southwest has become inextricably linked with the trade in meth and guns. Meth, like the pile at left, found in a suspect's trailer home, along with at least five firearms, including the semiautomatic rifle above- is one of the most addictive and destructive drugs. (Courtesy Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico)

Twiggers, to some extent, are also changing the way sites are looted. Because of their obsessive behavior, according to Glenna Dean, former New Mexico state archaeologist, they tend to "hoover" sites, pick them clean in ways that more discerning looters would not. Online auction sites then provide a market for any stray bits of history that turn up. Because long-term meth use leads to agitation and violent behavior, and because of the ubiquity of guns in the Southwest, the discovery and policing of looting has become more dangerous. "I think you have to be a little more wary," says N. "Meth makes people completely and utterly unpredictable."

Whether they learn looting from relatives, friends, or fellow tweakers, or are recruited as a scrounging army, twiggers are changing the face of looting in the United States (Southeast Asia and Europe, where the drug is also popular, may be next). In the broad shift from the treasure hunters of the 1960s and '70s to the profit-motivated commercial looters of the 1980s and '90s--both still significant problems--the meth connection represents a third phase. It is looting with no knowledge or regard to the objects being taken, the purest commodification of the past.

Image
Likely taken in trade for drugs, the prehistoric pottery in the meth dealer's home could not be seized--there was no proof it was acquired illegally, a difficulty often faced by federal agents who investigate cultural resource crime. (Courtesy Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico)

Convictions for archaeological crimes are difficult to obtain even under the best circumstances. Federal officers are spread impossibly thin across the Southwest and there are hurdles to making a case, such as proving that an artifact was illegally taken from federal land. In fact, in the case of the dealer in Grants, who is serving 11 years in prison on narcotics charges, only the Anasazi leggings could be seized. The rest of the archaeological material had to be left behind, as there was no evidence it was illegally obtained (though N and his colleagues are confident it was). "It became a drug case after that," says N. In fact, many of the cases he works on come directly from narcotics task forces who stumble across artifacts when they make busts.

The involvement with drugs is a mixed bag for officers who specialize in cultural resource crime. On one hand, meth makes the looters careless and more likely to make mistakes (though paranoia may temper that). But once a suspect is caught, looting offenses take a back seat to drugs charges--violators of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act face two years in prison, but only if the value of the artifacts exceeds $500, while drugs and firearms carry much steeper penalties. Bowman and others also wonder how well-equipped narcotics officers are to notice, assess, or know what to do with antiquities they find. Some, especially federal agents in the Southwest, know to call in specialists. That is not always the case.

Drug cases can make it easier to recover artifacts--suspects relinquish them more easily when they have drug cases hanging over them--- --but also encourage prosecutors to plead out or simply drop looting cases. The result is that there is little additional risk for a tweaker or drug dealer to diversify into the antiquities trade. Furthermore, the looting-meth connection is difficult to quantify--looting alone is nearly impossible to assess accurately--complicating policy-making. And many still see looting as a victimless crime.

While the connection with meth can draw attention to the problem of looting, it also carries the implication that looting is only important to law enforcement when it intersects with wider criminal behavior, says Bowman. Meth happens to intersect with a lot of other social ills, from identity theft and child neglect to HIV infection and toxic waste (from its production), that can make looting seem to pale in comparison. According to Rusty Payne of the Drug Enforcement Agency, "This is just another horrible ripple effect of meth, unfortunately."
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#2  Postby Herb » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:23 pm

I find this article interesting from the standpoint that these druggies apparently have a knack for finding these artifacts. I have spent a lot of time out in the rocks and dirt treasure hunting and have not once come across anything even remotely resembling an artifact unless pieces of broken obsidian or other glass like stone chips that some Indian might have used to make an arrowhead count for an artifact. How do they do it? Apparently they do pretty well finding these things.
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#3  Postby Kanabite » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:24 pm

Herb wrote:I find this article interesting from the standpoint that these druggies apparently have a knack for finding these artifacts. I have spent a lot of time out in the rocks and dirt treasure hunting and have not once come across anything even remotely resembling an artifact unless pieces of broken obsidian or other glass like stone chips that some Indian might have used to make an arrowhead count for an artifact. How do they do it? Apparently they do pretty well finding these things.


meth use comes with a very high price Herb.
and the druggies range from house wife's , to kids , to even neighbors and former friends
i hate that drug with every fibber of my being .
they can walk for hours and hours across Indian ruins combing every inch , DAY OR NIGHT , digging , scratching , with no other thing on the mind . as the children , work , family ,life itself slowly becomes not important to them . it is a high intensity , insidious thing . very destructive , unlike anything someone not familiar with it , could understand . the focus is fleeting though , eventually they end up chasing their tails , because of lack of sleep , and food . many do not come back from that darkness . its not just artifact hunting that gets done . any seemingly minuscule task becomes the be all , end all project of the day . i watched folks drop like flies from it . and the ironic thing is . it was pretty much none existent for quite a while until the FDA deregulated ephedrine , in like the late 80's .
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link should work

Post Number:#4  Postby Kanabite » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:25 pm

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squaw tea

Post Number:#5  Postby Kanabite » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:26 pm

here Herb, your going to love this . you don't need meth . please don't ever even consider that as an option...
http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_mormon_tea.htm
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BTU

Post Number:#6  Postby sanpete » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:26 pm

Kanabite wrote:here Herb, your going to love this . you don't need meth . please don't ever even consider that as an option...
http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_mormon_tea.htm
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??????????????/

Post Number:#7  Postby Kanabite » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:28 pm

During this time, Metabolife, makers of the best-selling brand of ephedra supplement, had received over 14,000 complaints of adverse events associated with its product; these reports were not provided to the FDA.[11][32] Senators Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin, authors of the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, questioned the scientific basis for the FDA's proposed labeling changes, arguing that the reported problems were insufficient to warrant regulatory action. At the time, Hatch's son was working for a firm hired to lobby Congress and the FDA on behalf of ephedra manufacturers.[33]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephedra_sinica
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#8  Postby Kanabite » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:28 pm

BTW the link claims there is no ephedrine in Mormon tea , sorry herb . look into it some more if you like . also the drugs ephedrine/pseudoephedrine are like 1 oxygen molecule off from meth. do you think having sudafed over the counter is worth the epidemic ?
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#9  Postby geogeek » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:29 pm

kanabite said,

"do you think having sudafed over the counter is worth the epidemic ?"

Do you really believe this kanabite? How many ways are there into Earth space from universal space? It appears you know enough to know the chemistry, but believe me, there are certain issues that federal government does not need to strain their party brains on while we pay for it.

Think about this. A man and his wife get up and have a nice breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee. Then they go rob a bank! Maybe we need to give this to the government so everyone realizes bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee will make you more deviant than where each person has been given an option of choice by God can not handle these chemically complicated carbohydrates, protein, and lipids. C'mon that sentence is correct grammatically. A strain for sure. I know what is wrong, I only had eggs, toast, and coffee.

I love you guys, but some of the stuff you back will come back to haunt you. Please do wake up!

kanabite, I do care about you. Consider the above.

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If you can't find your glasses or your keys when you pressed the edge of late, go look in the mirror and open your hands. BTW, do you have oil in and for your lamp?
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#10  Postby Herb » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:18 am

Lots of that tea plant around here but I have heard that it is some nasty stuff. Aside from that, with my copd, it's ability to constrict blood vessels and such it would not be very wise for me to use it as my body doesn't get enough oxygen as it is. I do appreciate the tip however, thanks. Got any tips on a good pepper-upper?
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#11  Postby WorkJay » Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:31 pm

Hey Herbie.... and Kanabite.... good to hear from youse guys agin! Thought maybe the "thought police" had gotten you...
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#12  Postby geogeek » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:07 am

I was harsh on that Kanabite. Bear with me for a bit. It is easy to point a finger at inanimate 'stuff' and then blame poor behavior on the 'stuff'. What is in the heart and mind of a human does tend to spill over under the influence of 'stuff', but it was already there before the 'stuff'. Ethanol is legal. Give a 'whatever dose' to someone and watch what comes out. The heart and the mind have constants that can be hidden by abstinance, however any deviance before the introduction, or the good path becomes apparent readily. I hope all understand what I am saying. I have no reason to lie. Check history. I do love you all.

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If you can't find your glasses or your keys when you pressed the edge of late, go look in the mirror and open your hands. BTW, do you have oil in and for your lamp?
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#13  Postby geogeek » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:42 am

Also, I brewed much wine from the North American ephedra. It has a beautiful burgundy color as a hot water infusion. It turns chocolate during fermentation, then turns piss yellow upon clearing. Ask my geo buddies and professors, it tastes good. At 14% alcohol it does kick unsuspecting butts trying to figure out what the flavor is. Oh yeah, zero ephedrine. That is the Asian variety. Now, my heart is breaking because I actually Love, and crying seems to be my job.
If you can't find your glasses or your keys when you pressed the edge of late, go look in the mirror and open your hands. BTW, do you have oil in and for your lamp?
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#14  Postby sanpete » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:06 am

Back in the late 1960's early 70's there was a thing for Chaparral tea as a relief from arthritis pain. The Chaparral bush is found in southern Utah and shrouding states. When brewing this you learned to brew this outside. The smell was so bad the flies would leave the area. The taste was worse than the smell.
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#15  Postby JemmLoy » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:24 am

In April 2004, agents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service surrounded a trailer outside Grants, New Mexico, to execute a search warrant .A couple of weeks earlier, "N" (who asked that his real name not be used), the BLM case agent for archaeological crime in New Mexico, received a tip that an exceptionally rare pair of Anasazi leggings made of human hair had been stolen from a private home. The leggings had been found on federal land, making their sale, transport, or possession a crime. Officers quickly identified the thief and "flipped" him, that is, they got him to help catch the person to whom he sold the leggings. The agents set up a controlled buy--they had the thief repurchase the leggings using marked bills, and then obtained a search warrant to retrieve the money.
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#16  Postby zelph » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:07 am

BLM report linked meth use and artifact thefts

By Nate Carlisle

The Salt Lake Tribune
Published June 15, 2009 6:37 pm


A few years ago, agent Dennis Spruell served a search warrant looking for evidence a woman was selling drugs.

Spruell did not find the methamphetamine he was seeking, but he did find American Indian artifacts.

"We were trying to get her for meth but never did," said Spruell, who commands a local drug task force based in Cortez, Colo. "The Bureau of Land Management did get her for dealing in artifacts."

Spruell and some archaeological-crime experts maintain the theft of artifacts in the West is intertwined with methamphetamine, with drug addicts supporting their habits by stealing ancient relics and selling them to collectors. But direct links can be hard to find.

Of the 24 people last week charged in federal court with antiquities thefts and crimes, three have prior convictions for drug offenses. U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman did not link the alleged crimes to drugs, but he said an investigation is ongoing.

Federal land managers in a 2008 BLM report said a link has been discovered between artifact thefts and the methamphetamine trade.

In a high-profile artifact case in 2006 in Oregon, federal prosecutors said looting there was tied to methamphetamine. Thirteen people were convicted in the Oregon case; six were guilty of drug crimes.

Edmund Spinney, a Springfield, Ore., defense attorney, represented a defendant convicted of removing remains from federal land. Spinney said his client found an American Indian skeleton along the banks of the Deschutes River, tried to sell it 10 years later and would resent being linked to methamphetamine.

"He was just a hardworking kid," Spinney said, "not a drug dealer; not involved in the drug trade at all. He saw a chance to make a buck on something, on an object he collected as a kid."

The defendant received a 30-month prison sentence.

Martin McAllister, who runs a consulting firm called Archaeological Resource Investigations, said looting by meth addicts are so common in some parts of the West, police call them "twiggers." The name is a combination of "tweaker," the slang for a meth addict, and the word "digger."

"When you have a packet of artifacts in your hand, you might as well have a packet of money in your hand," McAllister said.

A looter might be paid $500 for a pot, tool or cloth but it sells for much more in New York, Europe or Asia, McAllister said. A pot stolen from New Mexico sold in 1992 in Paris for $400,000, he said.

"There are documented cases in the Southwest where looters and dealers have found Native Americans with substance-abuse problems, and they have hired them to steal artifacts from archaeological sites," McAllister said.

Spruell said his task force routinely finds artifacts while serving search warrants looking for drugs.

"They [drug users] dig artifacts because it's an easy theft item," Spruell said. "It's abundant here in southwestern Colorado."

None of last week's charges included drug crimes, and if there have been Utah cases in which someone stole artifacts to buy meth, law enforcement has not promoted them.

Doug Squire worked on a drug task force in Grand and San Juan counties from 1993 to 2004 and was the commander for most of those years. Squire said he could remember only one case involving drugs and artifacts. In that case, Squire said, the suspect was dealing in both.

"I don't recall [drugs and artifacts] being intertwined quite that badly," Squire said Monday.

A spokesman for the Salt Lake City office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration also said he was not aware of any cases involving the trafficking of drugs and artifacts.

Jeff Kent, a retired federal attorney who has prosecuted archaeology crimes in Oregon, said the most culpable people are collectors who pay money for stolen artifacts.

"I wouldn't call [drug users] victims but, I would say they are vulnerable to being persuaded by collectors to do these things so they can feed their drug habits."
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Re: Drugs, Guns and Dirt

Post Number:#17  Postby zelph » Sat Nov 01, 2014 11:47 am

Grave-looting part of new black market for artifacts
By Wesley Brown
Staff Writer
Friday, April 26, 2013 4:19 PM
Last updated Saturday, April 27, 2013 1:45 AM


http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime ... -artifacts

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