Undercover U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized approximately 4 tons of rare fossils, including dinosaur eggs and prehistoric pinecones, from Rhodo Co., a popular Argentinean rhodochrosite dealer, on Feb. 10 during the Tucson, Ariz., gem and mineral shows. The agents seized the items from Rhodo Co. gem dealer José López.
The fossils—which were wrapped in Argentine newspapers—were stored in a warehouse in Nogales, Ariz., and on April 4, ICE agents and a group of paleontologists from Arizona State University examined them and determined that they had come from Argentina. Fossils are protected under Argentine law, and removing them without government permission is illegal.
At press time, there was no agreement with Lopez to return the fossils to Argentina. The United States has filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in Tucson to force Lopez to forfeit the fossils.
ICE agents said their investigation is ongoing and that no arrests have been made.