There’ve gotta be easier ways to make money than dinosaur fossil smuggling. Granted, it’s a cool-sounding profession—scratch that, an awesome-sounding profession. But as Florida fossils dealer Eric Prokopi found, countries don’t take lightly to having their precious paleontological artifacts stolen and sold for personal gain. Who knew?
Though Prokopi wouldn’t be in all the trouble he’s in now if he hadn’t gotten caught. Han Solo, God of Smugglers, is so disappointed in you right now, sir.
Prokopi has pled guilty to smuggling seven dinosaur skeletons and other assorted bones out of Mongolia, a charge which could land him up to 17 years in jail.
Among the skeletons he now has to give up: A 70 millon-year-old Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton known as “Ty”; another partial Tyrannosaurus skeleton previously kept in Prokopi’s Gainesville, Florida home; and one Saurolophus skeleton and two Oviraptor skeletons found in Prokopi’s house and another residential dwelling in Florida. Said Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin S. Bell, “It’s among the largest dinosaur shopping lists you’ll see today.”
Man. What Prokopi did is scummy, but I can’t deny I’m intrigued by the idea of having a dinosaur skeleton just… hanging around in one’s house, classing the place up.
“Ty” was seized by the U.S. government back in June after Prokopi tried to sell it at an auction for $1.05 million. The smuggler got the remains out of Mongolia—where a 1942 law makes all dinosaur fossils government property and prohibits their being taken abroad—by claiming on customs forms that they were reptile bones from Great Britain.
This particular paragraph from a RedOrbit.com story on Prokopi’s case caught my eye:
When the magistrate asked if the country of origin on the documents was an important fact, Prokopi answered, “Well, apparently,” prompting a brief discussion between the prosecutor and the defense attorney.
I would like to amend my previous statement. Han Solo would also be disappointed in Eric Prokopi because Eric Prokopi is a tool.