CEDAR CREST, NM (KRQE) - Federal agents raided a New Mexico-based gallery company last week looking for evidence in a dinosaur fossil smuggling case. The investigation centers around Touchstone Gallery. The company, which sells jewelry, fossils and minerals, has four locations in New Mexico and Arizona.
Agents searched the company’s Cedar Crest headquarters, its Taos location and owner Joe Wilhelm’s Sandia Park home. A federal search warrant application filed in late September and obtained on Wednesday by KRQE News 13 explains why.
In July 2013, Homeland Security Investigations agents were first given a tip that Touchstone was selling Oviraptor eggs at its Sedona location. Months later, agents say they entered the Santa Fe location and spotted a pair of Oviraptor egg clusters for sale, advertised as coming from Mongolia. That caught investigators’ attention. HSI has been returning fossils to Mongolia for the last few years because of that country’s artifact laws.