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February 22, 2016Tucson, AZ, United StatesCultural Property, Art and Antiquities Investigations

Canadian dealer sentenced for trafficking Chinese fossils at local gem show

Psittacosaurus fossil and a Hadrosaur egg

TUCSON, Ariz. – A Canadian man indicted on federal charges for selling Chinese dinosaur fossils last year at a local gem show was sentenced Monday to five years’ unsupervised probation and fined $25,000, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jun Yang, 37, who served as president of Arctic Products, Inc., based in Richmond, British Columbia, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson.

Yang was indicted in Tucson after HSI special agents working in an undercover capacity purchased 13 illegally imported fossilized dinosaur eggs from him at last year’s Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase. In addition to the Hadrosaur eggs, which Yang priced $450 each, he was also seeking to sell a Psittacosaurus fossil for $15,000. Psittacosaurus, meaning parrot lizard, was a relatively small dinosaur and an early relative of the Triceratops. 

Yang told undercover investigators at the gem show that the Psittacosaurus fossil was excavated in central China and dated back more than 100 million years. After confirming the specimens’ scientific value with subject matter experts, HSI seized the Psittacosaurus fossil along with 15 fossilized dinosaur eggs. 

“These prehistoric treasures rightfully belong to the Chinese people,” said Matthew C. Allen, special agent in charge for HSI Phoenix. “It’s shameful that someone would plunder specimens like these from another nation simply to pleasure hobbyists and line their own pockets.”  

Fossils, like cultural relics, are protected by the People’s Republic of China and removing them from that country without government permission is against the law.  

Updated: 02/23/2016