Red Faces at BLM Over Mishandling of Criminal Evidence

The Bureau of Land Management has certainly had its problems as it enforced oil and gas rules and regulations in Oklahoma’s Osage County. Now comes the story of how BLM senior law enforcement officials in Utah gave away ancient stones as a reward to a private contractor.

The moqui marbles, which consist of compacted sandstone balls millions of years ago have been found in parts of Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and Utah and had been taken illegally by poachers from an undisclosed BLM site. A criminal investigation led to the seizure of the stones.

But a report from the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General determined that there was a poor chain of custody and one senior BLM official gave the marbles to a contractor as a reward for doing a good job on a project.

There is speculation the marbles might have been taken from southern Utah’s 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Stones have been removed from there in the past and sold on a black market reaching to Germany.