A Texas man is going to prison after declaring he was “not scared of the feds” who patrolled an area where he looted Native American artifacts, authorities say.
Jeffrey Alan Vance, a 37-year-old from San Marcos, pleaded guilty in February to violating a federal law that prohibits unauthorized removal of artifacts from tribal land. A judge sentenced him to two years in prison on Tuesday.
Vance posted a Facebook photo of himself showing off artifacts after illegally excavating a Native American site north of Amarillo, authorities say.
The homestead site on a bluff overlooking the Canadian River once was home to the Antelope Creek Culture, a people credited with bringing early agriculture to what’s now the Texas Panhandle from 1200 to 1500.
The Canadian River is the only region in the U.S. with Alibates Flint, a rock with “striking colors” used by mammoth hunters and essential to survival and trade on the plains for 13,000 years, officials say.
When a Facebook user commented that the area “he is digging in is federal land and Rangers enforce (there),” Vance replied “I’m not scared of the feds,” according to court documents.
Another man in the photos was identified as Dax Wheatley of Amarillo. Wheatley also pleaded guilty in February.
Authorities say Vance described himself in texts as an “infamous illegal excavator of Native American artifacts in Texas” and warned others, “don’t be telling people we are digging on government property!”
Vance also posted photos of human remains with burial beads that he dug up, authorities say.
“(He) bragged that someday he would put the dead bodies back together and would display them in his ‘secret artifact lair,’” authorities wrote in court documents. “When asked if what he is doing is legal, Vance replied, ‘haha, no.’”
Authorities say they recovered about 1,500 artifacts, including burial beads and petrified wood, during the investigation.
Wheatley is scheduled to be sentenced this month.