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FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- A Fort Pierce treasure salvor has been named the rightful owner of Spanish treasure he discovered in the waters off the Panamanian coast by Federal officials.
The Spanish treasure laid on the floor of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panama for 400 years. For the last six months, a portion of that treasure has been held by the United States government in the Customs and Border Patrol vault in Fort Pierce, during a legal dispute between the government of Panama and local treasure salvor Daniel Porter, who first found the wreck of Spanish treasure galleon San Jose in 2012.
According to attorneys for Porter, Panama convinced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to seize the treasure when he returned to port in Fort Pierce from Panama in September 2015. Since then a legal battle between Porter and Panama over the ownership of the treasure has been waged, ending with Federal officials agreeing that Porter is the rightful owner.
Porter's attorneys say his salvage contract with Panama gave them not only a generous portion of all treasure recovered, but also gave Panama the first pick of any antiquity item. Porter and his crew dove the 42-mile trail of the shipwreck for nearly four years, recovering over 10,000 silver coins and other rare artifacts. Porter's reps say all retrieved artifacts were divided with the Panamanian government.
"Mr. Porter holds no animosity towards the Panamanian people and is hopeful that the pending legal disputes over the San Jose treasure is quickly resolved so he can return and complete the salvage operation he started. There are over 400,000 silver and gold coins still on the ocean floor. It would be a shame if they're left to rot there," said attorney Richard Kibbey in a statement.