Feds seized fossils at gem shows
Interpol tip led to rare materials from Argentina
By Becky Pallack
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 02.24.2006
Federal agents seized nearly 7 tons of rare fossils — including three football-sized dinosaur eggs — from a vendor during the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, an official announced Thursday.
Investigators believe the fossils were smuggled out of Argentina and say a tip to Interpol in Buenos Aires helped uncover the scheme that brought them here, said Supervisory Special Agent Lisa Fairchild of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Tucson.
No arrests have been made but the investigation is not finished, she said. The dinosaur eggs were valued by scientists at more than $4,000 each, but were priced at $1,400 at the show, Fairchild said. The seized items also include fossilized crab claws and prehistoric pine cones, some still encased in stone. The pine cones were priced at $80 apiece, she said.
...Still, agents say there's a chance no law was broken. Argentina passed a law in 2003 making it illegal to export fossils without government permission. But if the fossils were exported before 2003, there may be no prosecutable crime, Fairchild said.