PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon man is one of four people facing charges in connection to buying and selling over $1 million worth of dinosaur bones.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Utah, 40-year-old Ashland resident Jordan Willing was one of four suspects in the conspiracy involving 150,000 pounds of bones.
The other defendants are 67-year-old Steven Willing of Los Angeles — Jordan’s father — and 65 and 67-year-olds Vint and Donna Wade of Moab, Utah.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that the group knowingly obtained bones that were illegally removed from federal and state lands in southeastern Utah starting in March 2018, and at least through March of this year.
As revealed by officials, the Wades paid other people — some of whom are known to have been indicted for other cases — in exchange for paleontological resources held on federal land. Those people are suspected of removing the bones just for the Wades’ personal use.
Through their business, Wade’s Wood and Rocks, court documents show that Donna and Vint sold the illegally acquired bones to vendors at gem and mineral shows. Some of the products were jewelry, knives and beads all made from dinosaur bones.
The Wades are also believed to have sold products to Steven and Jordan of JMW Sales Inc., the latter of which is connected with a foreign organization suspected of trafficking dinosaur bones into China. The Attorney’s Office alleges that Jordan exported the bones to China, mislabeling them so federal agents wouldn’t detect them.
“In addition to the selling over $1,000,000 in paleontological resources, the defendants caused over $3,000,000 in damages that includes the commercial value of the resource, the scientific value of the resource, and the cost of restoration and repair,” USAO said.
The Wades and the Willings are now facing 13 counts including conspiracy against the U.S., theft of federal property, and violating the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act.
The suspects will appear in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 19.