Prokopi met with agents and representatives of our Office and the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations numerous times, spent many hours giving information about the fossil trade not only to this office, but to three other offices as they developed their understanding of the fossil trade. Prokopi developed their knowledge of the players in the trade of not only dinosaur fossils, but other natural treasures. Since Prokopi’s cooperation, other fossils have been seized and individuals arrested. Although these owe to leads developed separately and in some cases before Prokopi’s cooperation, it is safe to say that there is not an active fossil investigation that has not been informed, to some degree, by information given by Prokopi in this case.
Prokopi went awry, however, when, after having learned that the containers to be shipped from Mongolia lacked what he believed to be the necessary export permits, he nevertheless facilitated their entry into the United States by making false declarations on customs forms. He does not seek in any way to excuse or minimize this offense conduct. Rather, the distinction between transporting fossils out of Mongolia in contravention of that nation's laws and procuring stolen fossils from within Mongolia is underscored simply to dispel the notion of Prokopi as a black market ringleader who surreptitiously removed bones from the Gobi Desert in the dead of night. This distinction was all but lost in the media frenzy that followed Prokopi's arrest on October 17, 2012.
By Rick St. Hilaire Text copyrighted 2010-2014 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Blog url: culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT INFORMATION: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com