The Honduran gift is my personal favourite of all the recovered Goodwill Moon Rock stories I’ve read about to date, due to the twists and turns in the plot. Sometime between 1993 and 1995 a retired colonel illegally obtained the Honduras Apollo 17 moon rock with the sole intention of selling it on. In 1996 the greedy colonel managed to persuade a Floridian fruit distributor working in Honduras to buy it, although the distributor did take a year to decide. This is where the story gets most interesting.
Not long after this in 1998 NASA set up a sting operation called Operation Lunar Eclipse, which aimed to quash the sale of fake moon rocks to unsuspecting buyers. However, the fruit distributor answered an advert placed in USA Today in September 1998 by an undercover officer from Operation Lunar Eclipse (OLE), asking for moon rocks, offering his actual Honduras Goodwill Moon Rock for $5 million. When he met with undercover US customs agents who were working with OLE officers, in a Miami restaurant, the fruit distributor’s rock was seized and after a trial was returned to the Honduran President in 2004.
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