Photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The commission provided this image of arrowheads in connection with its undercover operation that resulted in the arrest of 13 individuals dealing in illegal historical artifacts.

Illegal Artifact Ring Broken Up in Florida


A group of thirteen individuals—11 from Florida and two from Georgia—were arrested February 27 on 400 felony counts for trading in illegal historical artifacts, many of them Native American, taken from state-owned lands in Florida.

“This looting didn’t just take artifacts from the ground,” Robert Bendus, Florida’s state historic preservation officer, said at a news conference in Tallahassee, reported the Associated Press. “It took history away from this generation and from future generations of Floridians.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers said there is nearly a $2 million black market for illegal historical artifacts.

Dozens of arrowheads and pottery shards were shown at the Florida news conference, but many of the stolen artifacts won’t ever be recovered.

Maj. Curtis Brown of the Fish and Wildlife Commission said the investigation is ongoing and that more arrests could be made.

The arrests were the result of a two-year investigation called Operation Timacua, which began after complaints of looting from around the state over the last five years were made.

Undercover agents would pose as buyers and find the items listed on websites such as Craigslist or at trade shows, reported the AP.

One of those arrested, Jacky Fuller, 54, of Fortson, Georgia, faces 216 counts; he is accused of violating historical resources, dealing in stolen property and dealing stolen property over the Internet. Fuller was booked March 7 into Marion County Jail in Florida with bond set at $7,500.

According to, an undercover agent purchased nine artifacts Fuller obtained from diving in St. Johns River for $200. An archaeologist determined the items to be “lithic core and grinding tools.”

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Deanne Johnson Burdette/Costello's picture
Deanne Johnson ...
Submitted by Deanne Johnson ... on
There was an incident, on what was known as the Slack farm, in Indiana,I am from Indiana, and was disgusted at the stealing from the grave site.I know that a lot of people go arrow head hunting....things that are on top of the ground, but stealing is stealing,period.I think the Slack farm incident was close to 30 or 35 years ago.The man responsible for the thefts was named Gerber.He was selling the artifacts.Totally disgraceful, in my eyes.I wrote Indian affairs in Owensboro, Kentucky, and shared my thoughts.In turn, Richard Montezuma, sent me and my husband an invitation to go there, but we were too poor to get the money to do that.I still have the letter.Wish we could have gone there.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Its just another form of government control, how about doing some research on the "archeologists" they are the worst looters of them all, Oh but they have a piece of paper from the state?? That makes all the destruction of grounds and disturbance of wildlife totally fine huh? God forbid a guy go out with his young son and try to find an arrowhead to help spark an intirest in his some for nature and wilderness and an appreciation for past civilizations, the state would rather have it lost forever for NO ONE to enjoy, that sounds like the government, The US may be the best country in the world but it also sucks pretty bad too.