A joint task force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI) raided the home of long-time Area 51 sleuth Joerg Arnu, and questions still linger.
Since 1999, Arnu has run a website called Dreamland Resort that has served as a central hub for amateur Area 51 investigators, theorists, and hobbyists.
Area 51, the remote, formerly top-secret Air Force base within the Nevada Test and Training Range, has long been a fixture in the popular imagination, associated with unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and extraterrestrial beings.
Dreamland Resort is a repository of aerial drone videos, satellite images of the classified military base, and photographs of UFOs. It also posts about purported new military aircraft, such as the so-called “super secret” Northrop Grumman RQ-180 unmanned stealth craft.
The website features a discussion forum with posts on various Area 51 topics.
After agents from both the FBI and AFOSI raided his residences in Las Vegas and the tiny desert town of Rachel, Nevada, Arnu claimed publicly that he was the subject of an intimidation campaign by federal authorities.
“I believe the search, executed with completely unnecessary force by overzealous government agents, was meant as a message to silence the Area 51 research community,” Arnu decried.
On the morning of November 3, Arnu claimed “15-20 agents in full riot gear” simultaneously raided his two residences “without warning.”
At the time, he was in the Rachel residence, where federal agents reportedly broke down his door; his girlfriend was in the Las Vegas residence. Arnu claimed they “were detained and treated in the most disrespectful way.”
“My girlfriend was led out into the street barefoot and only in her underwear in full view of the neighbors,” Arnu claimed. “I was led outside, handcuffed, and only in a t-shirt and sweats in sub-freezing temperatures.”
Arnu said he asked the agents about the impetus for the raid.
“I was only told that the search was related to images posted on my Area 51 website,” he recalled.
Federal agents seized Arnu’s laptops, phones, backup hard drives, cameras, and drone, which he estimated to be around $20,000 in total value.
Furthermore, the Area 51 researcher claimed the federal agents caused thousands of dollars of damage to his residence during the raid.
“Even my phone was taken, leaving me in Rachel with two broken doors and no way to communicate or call for help,” he said.
Arnu claims he has not been able to fully understand the nature of the raid or the scope of the investigation because the search warrant he was presented with had dozens of pages missing, the case file is currently sealed, and the FBI will not return his phone calls.
“At this point, I have no choice but to take legal action to try and get my equipment back and to seek reimbursement for the damage,” he lamented.
An FBI spokesperson, Sandy Breault, stated in an email to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the federal law enforcement agency “declines to comment” on Arnu’s case at this time.
The AFOSI has not responded to media inquiries.
Arnu asserted that all the videos and images published on Dreamland Resort were “legally obtained and legal to publish.” Nevertheless, the webmaster took down some materials “in an effort to defuse the situation.”
“Considering how this went down, I have no intention of removing any more material unless ordered to do so by a federal judge,” Arnu declared.