A federal judge in New York has sentenced a Florida fossils dealer to three months in prison for smuggling a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus skeleton out of Mongolia.
Eric Prokopi (proh-KAHP’-ee) of Gainesville also must serve three months in community confinement.
The government said Prokopi smuggled the bones from the Gobi Desert into the U.S. and then assembled them.
The skeleton was sold by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions for more than $1 million. The government said the dinosaur skeleton was mislabeled as reptile bones from Great Britain. The deal was suspended.
The skeleton has been returned to Mongolia. (source)
A Florida art dealer is facing heavy fines and possible prison time in connection with an ancient artifact smuggling case.
Francois B. Lorin, 74, of Winter Park, was hit with obstruction of justice charges after he forged documents in an attempt to legitimize an illegal shipment of ancient Chinese objects, federal authorizes allege.
The artifacts in question are hundreds, even thousands of years old. They include Neolithic amulets, a gold and silver inlaid container and a bronze mirror elaborately decorated with fish and birds, according to court documents. Read more.
LIMA, Peru — Gladiz Collatupa, an archaeologist, once stashed six mummies at her parents’ house for safe keeping. That was when she dug for artifacts in the dirt of Peru, rich with the leavings of past cultures like the Inca and the Moche. Now she digs through packages at the post office instead, searching for ancient treasure being smuggled out of the country.
Ms. Collatupa and a colleague, Sonia Rojas, an art historian, are a pair of Indiana Joneses in reverse. Instead of swashbuckling around the world looting ruins, they try to keep Peru’s ancient riches from being spirited out of the country by mail.
“With less danger,” noted Ms. Rojas, a petite woman in glasses with a keen interest in colonial Peruvian paintings. She wears a khaki vest with a large button that says, “I defend my cultural heritage.” Read more.
Agents seize art from a Madison Avenue gallery owner, saying evidence could unravel the biggest antiquities smuggling network identified since the 1990s.
Federal agents have seized an estimated $100 million in art over the last two years from a prominent Manhattan antiquities dealer they describe as one of the most prolific antiquities smugglers in the world.
Subhash Kapoor, a 64-year-old American citizen, awaits trial in India, where he is accused of being part of an antiquities smuggling ring that American and Indian investigators say spanned continents. U.S. authorities have issued their own arrest warrant for Kapoor, saying they have evidence he supplied stolen art to leading museums around the world.
In a series of raids on his Manhattan gallery and storage facilities last year, investigators with Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized dozens of artifacts along with Kapoor’s business records. Read more.
A federal grand jury indicted two West Valley City residents Wednesday on allegations they helped smuggled Peruvian artifacts, including pre-Columbian vessels, to the United States.
Cesar Guarderas, 70, and his wife Rosa Isabel Guarderas, 45, were arrested March 25 following an investigation that began in October. They will make their first court appearance Friday.
Two other men also are named in the indictment: Javier Abanto-Sarmiento, 39, and Alfredo Abanto-Sarmiento, 36, of Trujillo, Peru. Javier Abanto-Sarmiento and Rosa Isabel Guarderas are siblings.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents arrested Javier Abanto-Sarmiento on March 4 when he arrived in Miami from Peru. Read more.
AMMAN, Jordan – A Syrian government official warned Wednesday of rampant trafficking in antiquities from his country and appealed for U.N. help in halting the illicit trade that has flourished during the nearly 23-month-long civil war.
Syria’s turmoil has increasingly threatened the country’s rich archaeological heritage but the issue of smuggling artifacts has taken a back seat to more dramatic images as some of the most significant sites got caught in the crossfire between regime forces and rebels.
President Bashar Assad’s troops have shelled rebel-held neighborhoods, smashing historic mosques, churches and souks, or markets. Looters have stolen artifacts from excavations and to a lesser extent, museums. Read more.
THESSALONIKI, GREECE — A retired policeman and a house painter have been arrested in northern Greece on suspicion of antiquities smuggling after an ancient gold wreath and armband were found in their car, police said Friday.
The suspects were stopped by highway police near the village of Asprovalta, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Thessaloniki late Thursday. Officers, who were working on a tip that the house painter might be trafficking in antiquities, found the 4th century B.C. artifacts in a shoebox under the passenger seat.
The wreath was a rare and valuable find, said Nikos Dimitriadis, head of the Thessaloniki police antiquities theft section.
"It is a product of an illegal excavation from a Macedonian grave, according to archaeologists (who examined it)," he said. Read more.
NEW YORK: An antiques dealer pleaded guilty Wednesday to smuggling ancient Egyptian treasures, including a coffin, to the United States.
Mousa Khouli, also known as Morris Khouli, aged 38, faces up to 20 years of prison for “smuggling Egyptian cultural property into the United States and making a false statement to law enforcement authorities,” the federal prosecutor’s office in New York said.
Khouli arranged for the purchase and smuggling of a Greco-Roman style Egyptian coffin, a three-part nesting coffin set, a set of Egyptian funerary boats, and Egyptian limestone figures between October 2008 and November 2009, officials said.
The antiquities were exported from Dubai into the United States with false documentation.
Khouli also settled a civil complaint seeking forfeiture of Egyptian and Iraqi artifacts, prosecutors said. (source)