Four arrested in Argentina for stealing 1500 kg of meteorites

CHACO – On 30 May 2015 Argentinian National Police seized a load of 215 pieces of meteorites with a total weight of 1500 kilos in an operation in the province of Chaco, Argentina.

Image from the Documentary "El color que cayó del cielo", bySergio Wolf. Watch a clip by clicking on the picture
Image from the Documentary “El color que cayó del cielo”, bySergio Wolf. Watch a clip by clicking on the picture

Police found the material while stopping a Mercedes Benz truck during a check carried out this morning on National Highway No. 89, in the vicinity of the town of General Pinedo. The seizure was part of “Operational Shield North” instituted by the Ministry of National Security in Argentina.

Officers noticed that inside the cab and under bunks of the vehicle, occupied by four seniors, were rust colored stones of different sizes, minerals whose characteristics suggested them to be meteorites. The three Argentinians and one Paraguayan involved were immediately arrested and the meteorites seized along with other items found.

The provincial Government Minister, Javier Oteo, said “there is still no information on the place from which the meteorites were stolen” and recalled that the park Campo del Cielo. hosting large meteorites, it is only 32 kilometers from General Pinedo, place of detention.

“The information we have is small and preliminary. We are interested in the case because it is public property that we intend to stay in our province because it is the heritage of the Chaco, Argentina and all humanity,” the official said.

Among the bodies in Campo del Cielo (“The Field of Heaven”) discovered is “El Chaco”, 37.4 tons, which is the largest meteorite fell in Argentina and considering the second in the world.

In this region were also discovered and unearthed other celestial bodies of different sizes and weights with colourful names such as “El Toba”, “The Axe”, “El Tonocote” “El Abipón” “El Mataco” and “El Taco”.

This is not the first time that the theft of meteorites discovered: in January 1990 “El Chaco” was close to being brought illegally to the United States in a case in which he was involved Robert Haag, a collector and seller of meteorites that shortly after his release.

In that year a meteorite museum in a school setting The Vipers, where a collection of nearly 300 pieces collected by students in a near Gancedo area were also taken away, the town closest to Campo del Cielo, in southwest the province and less than 100 kilometers from the border with Santiago del Estero.

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