Nearly $2 million worth of ancient Florida artifacts are now evidence in a case of criminal conspiracy. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers nabbed 14 people, including two people from North Central Florida, after a two year investigation into missing artifacts from State Lands. Officers say the suspects were sneaking onto state property at night to dig and dive for a piece of history. Florida Fish and Wildlife Major Curtis Brown says the suspects were selling the items on the internet.
"Some of these items and they are displayed on these posters. They were for sale for $100,000. They were sold on online websites; Ebay, Craigslist, tradeshows and of course the black market." Major Curtis Brown (Florida Fish and Wildlife Major) said.
From our area, 74-year-old James Tatum of Fort White and 50-year-old Paul Hilton of Silver Springs were among those arrested. Some of the suspects are experienced divers and experts in Florida history. They had been operating for years. No one knows how many artifacts were shipped out of state.
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