Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stolen and Looted: Meth Addict Funds Habit with Artifacts

The Oregonian reported yesterday that a Eugene, Oregon judge is finishing the sentencing of a band of looters that stole artifacts and remains from Native American sites in Central Oregon, some to fund their methamphetamine habits. In what might be the largest antiquities bust in United States history, authorities have seized over 100,000 artifacts from a ring of thieves that looted over 100 historical sites causing over $1 million in archaeological damage.

They dug by sunlight and flashlight, making away with a kneecap and a skeleton -- as well as baskets, bowls, spear points, skinners and stone knives -- before federal agents caught up with them as part of a massive investigation dubbed "Operation Bring 'Em Back." [...] Ten people have been convicted of looting artifacts or human remains in the case, three more face criminal indictments, and nearly 20 others remain subjects in the ongoing investigation, according to federal court records.

Whenever thieves steal artifacts before archaeologists have had a chance to properly excavate a site, any hope of understanding their context is lost. This is why un-provenanced artifacts in auction houses like Christie's or Sotheby's or even Ebay or on exhibit in museums like the J. Paul Getty Museum are clearly illicit gains. Particularly when there's no documentation prior to the UNESCO agreement of 1970. These buyers and middle men of illicit and illegal antiquities are equally complicit in the theft of the artifacts since, if there wasn't a market, the looters wouldn't bother.

This is why it is interesting, according to the article, to see that the authorities involved in the Operation Bring 'Em Back are about to move into the second phase, which is to target the buyers:

"The initial search warrants were focused upon diggers -- unlawful diggers and unlawful traders," said Kent, who handled the case until his retirement in January.

"The next phase," he said, "would focus on those individuals who essentially serve as buyers to increase their own collections or people who buy to trade with others (on) the ever-escalating marketplace."

Federal agents searched the homes of three major artifacts collectors in the case. None of them -- Phillip Fields, 63,of Bly; Harold Elliot, 64, of La Pine; and Miles Simpson, 44, of Bend -- has been charged with a crime, and all three maintain their artifacts were collected legally.

"Neither Miles nor I have done anything that would warrant this kind of investigation," Elliot said.. Elliot and Simpson said they have never knowingly bought any illegal artifact.

I wonder if Elliot and Simpson have clear documentation that shows ownership of all of their artifacts prior to 1970? If not, then they clearly are looters, whether they got their hands in the dirt or not.

7 Epigraphic Artifacts:

Anonymous said...

why has it taken so long for this to get to trial? this guy is know as a scum bag for years,he has ripped several people off posing as a real estate developer all over oregon, log cabin kits with stolen wood that will not pass code. and all the lies,

Anonymous said...

elliot is from monmoth oregon and has affected several peoples lives in bend oregon at the deshutes river woods devolpment and in northern klamith county. he has abandoned his addolpted children, who also wound up in jail. i wonder if he has any idea whats in front of him this time. he has several pending lawsuits in central oregon.

Anonymous said...

i think the investigaters shound look in george greens, strange, death. "accident". and also tony both were elliots right hand men, both gone in weeks of each other. and all the log cabin elliot sold and stole all the monies from who ever he could.his only weakness is being with another man. loves to get his shit packed. thats a fact

Leslie Elliot said...

I think it's really sad that someone could be so angry and uninformed. The reason that it has taken so long to go to trial in regard to Harold & Miles is because it is not going to go to trail. There is no evidence. Why? They haven't done anything wrong. You sound bitter. I'm betting "Anonymous" is one of the people who couldn't make their house payments and went into foreclosure. That or one of the ladies who just doesn't seem to understand that Harlod is HAPPILY married to a beautiful wife. He isn't from manmoth, for the record. I should know. I'm his daughter who was never abandoned. My brother and I are very proud of our father and all his sucsess. I bet if you found some of your own you wouldn't have time to dwell on others. Those that matter know better and thoses that don't know better don't matter.

Sheri said...

To reflect on the previous comments. I have know Elliot for ten years. I have know him as "scum bag". He has helped others, giving them a helping hand when they couldn't acquire it themselves. Many times has taken a loss because others have fallen on their faces with lack of success. Elliot never lived in Monmoth Oregon. This subdivision that was talked about is one that he owned. Therefore, the log homes are from the clearing of the properties for provide proper and sufficient lots for those who chose to buy. He loves his children and has gone to extreme measures to help them throughout their lives. Sometimes our children make mistakes and yes get into trouble. But can grow up and realize a Father's Love. I personally know they are all very close today and are making successes in their lives. As to the lawsuits, I don't know of any at this time. In the past it has been those that were jealous that caused a lot of grief for Elliot and promoting his need for attorney representation. George Green was killed in a mill accident-research proves. Tony died of Cancer a couple of years later. Anyone who knows Elliot know he is not a man chaser. So to state that's a fact. Anonymous is dealing with issues of his own and needs to get a life.

Sheri said...

Edit:Miss print on first couple of sentences: I have not known him as scum bag.

Anonymous said...

not to mention that he was carrying duds for bullets. Did he really shoot the man in the head? So a bullet goes through a womans wall and ends up in her house when she returns home... but the bullet stops in his head? That is incredible. Thank goodness for the mans life, i can not imagine the fear going through him trying what? 3 different homes before someone opened up. Olsen needs his badge taken away and charges brought down on his reckless actions. As well as tampering with evidence for his girlfriend that moved the truck.

Crystal Meth Addiction

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