A Canadian academic was sentenced to seven years in a Chinese jail Thursday after being found guilty of heading a smuggling operation trafficking nearly 3,000 dinosaur fossils within China and abroad.Zhu Chunlin, 46, and five others were caught by customs officials in the southeastern city of Jinhua in November. The inspectors found 1,141 fossils they were trying to get out of China and another 1,784 the group hid in the cities of Jinzhou and Shanghai further north. The country's official Xinhua news agency is calling it the largest bust of its kind.
The Chinese government said the fossils -- which included primitive birds, dinosaurs, tortoises and tigers -- were being sent to the United States or resold on the Chinese market. Some were up to 200 million years old.
The university geology professor was also handed a $24,700 (US) fine, while the other defendants were fined amounts between $3,700 and $18,600 US. Their prison terms were between two and eight years.
The Jinhua Municipal Intermediate People's Court handed down the sentence, saying the crimes had been ongoing since 2003. Court records said Zhu taught at a university but did not identify the school.
Read the earlier Palaeoblog article HERE.