Florida man arrested for smuggling dinosaur bones from Mongolia
(Reuters) – A Florida man described as “a one-man black market in prehistoric fossils” was arrested on Wednesday on charges of smuggling dinosaur skeletons from Mongolia, authorities said.
The arrest of Eric Prokopi, 38, of Gainesville, Florida, comes amid an international custody battle over a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton seized by the U.S. government shortly after it was auctioned in Manhattan in May for $1.05 million.
“Our recent seizure of the Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton from Eric Prokopi was merely the tip of the iceberg,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.
“Our investigation uncovered a one-man black market in prehistoric fossils,” he said.
The dinosaur seizure and subsequent charges against Prokopi were sparked by Mongolia’s claim that the 70-million-year-old skeleton was stolen from the Gobi Desert and should be returned. Mongolian law prohibits the removal of dinosaur remains for private gain.
Prokopi, a commercial paleontologist who sells coral, fossils and other natural treasures through his home-based business at www.everything-earth.com, is accused of smuggling dinosaur bones out of Mongolia and China from 2007 and selling them to auction houses and individuals for enormous profit.
Psst! —-> Pakicetus