The Treasure of Maya has been a center of conflict between archaeologists and tenacious looters. No one is quite sure who beat who there but today there are plenty of tourists visiting the region. Everyone seems to be in a race for any artifacts that can be called part of the Treasure of Maya. Even mathematicians and astrologers together have tried to crack the hieroglyphic code of the Maya.
The Maya vanished in the 11th century and no one is quite certain why. Many offer their theories of disease, war or drought. The truth will likely never be revealed because of all of the looting that continues. Satellite images have depicted some 4,000 undiscovered sites still remaining in that very region. Looting in this region is nearly as big as the illegal drug industry where Maya sites are concentrated.
The reason for the great numbers of looters is because they are not walking away from the Treasure of Maya empty handed. Some get jade jewelry, pottery, stelae, sacrificial altars and even large stone slabs with carvings of certain kings and their endeavors. While this might seem rather insignificant keep in mind that a jade necklace would likely sell for about $13,000. Of course these artifacts are then smuggled out of the country and then sold.
The same organizations that are in the business of the transshipment of cocaine and heroin are the same people that buy these Mayan treasures. These treasures are so popular that corrupt museum employees have even attempted to steal artifacts from the museum. Because of the strong organizational ties surrounding the Treasure of Maya, legally not much is even done. Most witnesses are killed before they could ever testify and much of the work is done by leftist guerrillas. The Treasure of Maya may not be that well hidden but it is one that is difficult to get to.