The wheels of justice turn slowly but they finally caught up with Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy Wednesday, Feb. 10 when he was arrested by federal officials in Portland, Oregon.
The charges stem from a standoff between Bundy and federal officers near his ranch in April 2014 when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and FBI attempted to round up cattle allegedly grazing illegally in the Gold Butte Area of Critical Environmental Concern south of Bunkerville and Mesquite.
A federal complaint filed Thursday charges Bundy and others with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal law enforcement officer, carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, obstruction of justice, interference with commerce by extortion and aiding and abetting.
According to national news reports, Bundy flew to Oregon Wednesday night to help negotiate a settlement between federal officers and the remaining four people who had occupied a federal building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge since Jan. 2. Bundy’s two sons, Ammon, 40, and Ryan, 43, had previously been arrested in association with the Oregon occupation and allegedly were part of the Bunkerville standoff.
Bundy and his sons are still held in an Oregon jail. In Cliven Bundy’s first court appearance on Thursday, he requested a court-appointed lawyer saying he could not afford one on his own. The judge has demanded a financial affidavit from Bundy proving his financial indigency before granting the request.
After years of defying federal ownership or jurisdiction over the Gold Butte area, grazing as many as 900 head of cattle on public lands, and refusing to pay as much as $1 million in grazing permits, federal agencies attempted to round up Bundy’s cattle in 2014. About 300 cattle had been captured and penned before Bundy and hundreds of supporters faced off with officials.
At times, both sides were allegedly using snipers with high-powered rifles pointed at the other side. The stand-off ended without violence or bloodshed when Washington D.C. officials told federal agents to back down.
No charges had been filed against Bundy nor were there any attempts to take him into custody related to the April 2014 incident until this week. The federal indictment did not include charges against the elder Bundy in relation to the wildlife refuge occupation.