Senators to call for investigation of artifact raid

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett will call on Congress to investigate what some are calling the Gestapo tactics of federal agents during a raid in southeastern Utah.

Nearly two dozen people in the Four Corners area were awakened Wednesday by a knock on the door. They were then handcuffed and shackled by federal agents. San Juan County Commission Chairman Bruce Adams says prominent citizens were treated like hardened criminals, even though they were only accused of selling an artifact or two.

Bennett said, "It has all of the appearances of being massive overreaction."

Sen. Bennett said the federal government did not consult with any Utah agency about this week's raid. He says the raid was conducted in a way that's angered a vast majority of the San Juan County community.

"Just showing up at the doorstep with guns drawn, flak jackets, handcuffing a woman for hours in her own home over a charge of having sold one artifact. That's overkill. If that's they way it went down, that's something we certainly need to look into," he said.

Adams asked the senators to seek an investigation. He believes federal agents acted so harshly during their sweep that it pushed a prominent doctor to commit suicide.

U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman defended the law enforcement action. "The notion some have that you can take whatever you want from public lands is wrong. Individuals engaged in this kind of conduct will be investigated and prosecuted by this office," Tolman said earlier this week.

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