Tuesday, March 16, 2004


Feds arrest rancher in land dispute

A rancher who is fighting for his right to continue grazing cattle on disputed land in New Mexico was arrested yesterday evening by Forest Service law-enforcement officers, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court today.

Kit Laney's 147,000-acre Diamond Bar Ranch was closed by the Forest Service on Feb. 29 to prepare for the removal of nearly 400 head of cattle in compliance with a federal court order. Forest Service contractors had rounded up and corralled about a hundred head by Sunday.

Reports reached Laney that the cattle were being mistreated, that calves were being separated from their mothers.

"He simply wanted to check on his cattle, " a neighbor told WorldNetDaily.

At about 7:25 p.m. last night, Laney approached a temporary enclosure to the Beaverhead Work Center where officers Christopher Boehm and DeWayne Ross were among the Forest Service personnel working Laney's cattle. Patrol Capt. Mike Reamer recognized Laney and greeted him at a distance of about 40 feet, according to the complaint.

At about 25 feet from Reamer, Laney is said to have "spurred his horse to a fast gallop, charged Officers Reamer, Ross and Boehm," while yelling profanities. Laney's horse struck Boehm on the left arm and knocked him into a cattle guard.

Laney then guided his horse to the side of the temporary cattle enclosure and tried to remove the fencing. He "struck contractor Isaiah Baker with the leather reins," the complaint says.

Laney was advised to stop and told that if he did not stop, he would be arrested. Laney dismounted and continued to try to pull down the enclosure. Laney scuffled with Reamer and Boehm while continuing to try to pull down the fence.

The rancher was subdued with a one to two-second spray of mace and was handcuffed and removed to the Dona Ana detention facility in Las Cruces, N.M.

Catron County Sheriff Cliff Snyder said he knew nothing of the arrest until Monday morning, when he was told that Laney had been charged with "four or five counts," including assault, resisting arrest and trying to release cattle.

U.S. Attorney John Crews saidone count of assault and one count of resisting a court order would be filed.

This action is only the latest episode in a ten-year legal battle between the Laneys and the Forest Service....

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