BUENOS AIRES – Coast guard personnel in the northern province of Santiago del Estero have seized about 300 kilos (660 pounds) of meteorite pieces that were bagged and ready for sale, Argentine officials said.
Officers found 12 bags in a house in the town of Quilimi during an operation coordinated by Judge Guillermo Molinari that failed to locate the main suspect in the illegal trade, the Security Ministry said.
Each bag contained meteorite fragments weighing between 20 and 25 kilos (44 and 55 pounds), with one rock weighing more than 50 kilos (110 pounds).
The suspected smugglers collected meteorites that fell in the vast ranch they own in the province, sell them for about $2,500 apiece, media reports said.
Coast guard officers had to dig to find the rocks hidden by the suspects.
Provincial law defines any natural object falling from the sky and found in Santiago del Estero’s territory to be government property.