Canadian man gets probation for smuggling Chinese dinosaur fossils

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 22, 2016 10:17 PM

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A Canadian dealer in prehistoric artifacts was sentenced on Monday to five years on probation and fined $25,000 in U.S. federal court in Arizona for smuggling dinosaur fossils from China to be sold at a Tucson gem show.

Jun Yang, 36, of Richmond, British Columbia, pleaded guilty in August to one felony count of illegally importing 17 fossil specimens into the United States, one of them dating back at least 100 million years, according to federal court documents.

Yang admitted as part of his plea bargain that the smuggled items were transported from China by freighter inside shipping containers and placed on display at the 2015 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.

The entire collection was valued at about $22,000 and included a specimen of Psittacosaurus, a small, bristle-tailed, plant-eating dinosaur excavated from central China and priced at $15,000, federal prosecutors said.

Sixteen fossil eggs from a duck-billed dinosaur called a Hadrosaur were sold at $450 apiece at the gem show, prosecutors said.

Yang's lawyer, Michael Harwin, said he was satisfied with the plea deal and the sentence.

The gem and mineral show is a popular attraction for visitors and collectors from across the country and beyond, drawing tens of thousands of people to Tucson for the annual two-week event.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Joseph Radford)