The dinosaur bones were illegally exported to China.
Four people in the United States have been charged for purchasing and reselling "paleontological resources" worth over $1 million, including dinosaur bones that were exported to China, as per a report in NBC News.
Two of the accused, Vint Wade and Donna Wade, lived in Utah. Both are aged 65 and 67 respectively. The other two, Steven Willing, 67 and Jordan Willing, 40, are from Los Angeles and Oregon. Although the relationship between the Wades remains unknown, the Willings are a father-and-son duo. All of them have committed multiple felonies and violated the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, as per a statement from the US Attorney's Office for the District of Utah. "A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City returned a 13-count indictment charging four people for allegedly purchasing and selling over $1M in paleontological resources. The dollar amount represents 150,000 pounds of paleontological resources, including dinosaur bones, illegally removed from federal and state lands in southeastern Utah," they said.
According to the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, paleontological resources are defined as "fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms, preserved in or on the earth's crust, that have paleontological interest and provide information about the history of life on earth."
Lawyers claim the accused purchased, relocated, and exported dinosaur bones from federal territory for five years, from March 2018 to March 2023. Additionally, the four are charged with "knowingly hiding and keeping stolen property belonging to the United States."
They added that the Wades gathered the paleontological materials to sell them to national merchants and at gem and mineral exhibitions. Further, prosecutors claimed that they also sold paleontological materials to Jordan and Steven Willing. The Willings mislabeled the dinosaur bones to lower their value before exporting them to China through their business, JMW Sales Inc. Prosecutors said that the mislabeling was done in order to avoid federal officers catching them.
"By removing and processing these dinosaur bones to make consumer products for profit, tens of thousands of pounds of dinosaur bones have lost virtually all scientific value, leaving future generations unable to experience the science and wonder of these bones on Federal land," US Attorney Trina A. Higgins stated.