Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy arrested by FBI in Portland
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on February 10, 2016 at 11:03 PM, updated February 11, 2016 at 1:30 AM
Showdown in Burns
- Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch.
He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer -- the same charge lodged against two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, for their role in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns. He also faces weapons charges.
The Bundy Ranch Facebook page reported Cliven Bundy was surrounded by SWAT officers and detained after his arrival from Nevada.
He was arrested at 10:10 p.m., authorities said.
The Bundy patriarch had traveled to Portland with plans to go on to Burns, where four occupiers had been the remaining holdouts of the refuge occupation.
Bundy has been under federal scrutiny since his ranch standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He has not paid grazing fees on federal land and he owes the agency $1 million in unpaid fees and penalties. He and militia supporters confronted federal agents who had impounded Bundy's cattle that were found on federal property.
To avoid bloodshed, the federal agents retreated and Bundy's supporters turned loose the cattle.
Some of the key participants in that standoff helped orchestrate the wildlife refuge occupation, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy. They are both in custody in Portland.
Another key participant in the Nevada showdown was Ryan Payne, a Montana militiaman who helped organize militia snipers to take aim at federal agents in Nevada. Payne is considered the tactician behind the Oregon takeover and also has been arrested and faces a federal conspiracy charge.
The Bundy brothers and Payne said they took over the federal bird sanctuary to protest the imprisonment of two Burns area ranchers and federal land ownership. They were arrested along with several others Jan. 26 as they traveled to a meeting in a neighboring county.
Occupation spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was shot and killed by state police at the stop. He was carrying a loaded 9mm handgun and refused to follow police commands, the FBI said.
Cliven Bundy's arrest came as the Oregon refuge takeover seemed headed for a finish.
The last four occupiers, who have camped alone since Jan. 28 at the headquarters compound, agreed Wednesday night to surrender in the morning. They did so after FBI tactical teams infiltrated refuge buildings undetected overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. The FBI then hemmed in the occupiers with armored vehicles and negotiated with them for five hours to reach the surrender agreement.
Ammon Bundy's lawyer, Mike Arnold, said Cliven Bundy was considering joining Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore at a news conference that had been planned Thursday morning in Portland to talk about the refuge takeover. Almost immediately after she arrived in Portland, Fiore started talking to the last occupiers by phone and left in a car for the six-hour drive to Burns to help work out their surrender.
"It's terribly unfortunate the timing of his arrest, given all the progress Assemblywoman Fiore made this evening,'' Arnold said, referring to Fiore's intervention on behalf of the holdhouts.
Arnold urged the four remaining occupiers to find some good in it. "He was arrested without incident and without violence," the lawyer said. "That should give them comfort in their decision tomorrow.''
Reporter Jim Ryan of The Oregonian/OregonLive contributed to this report.