Spanish ship wreckage found with billions in treasure

Colombia has announced the discovery of a long-lost Spanish galleon (ship) containing billions of dollars' worth of gemstones, gold, and silver. It's an incredibly exciting announcement, but not one without controversy. The galleon, called San Jose, has been the subject of legal battles for a while now, with U.S. company Sea Search Armada claiming to have found the ship's site back in 1981.

The ship's discovery was formally announced in the most modern way possible: on Twitter, where Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos announced, "Great news: We found the galleon San Jose!" However, Sea Search Armada has been trying to get its hands on the treasure for a while, and has initiated several legal proceedings in both the U.S. and Colombia.

The U.S. lawsuits have been dismissed, the first back in 2011 and the second in 2015. According to SSA, it received a partial victory in Colombia, where the nation's Supreme Court ruled that the treasure should be split, with half going to SSA and half to the Colombian government.

Colombia disagrees, however, with its Cultural Minister Mariana Garces Cordoba saying that the ruling was in Colombia's favor, with all funds being slated to go to government. In a statement to CNN, SSA's managing director Jack Harbeston said that Colombia "keeps repeating the Big Lie (which is unfortunately repeated by the press) that the GOC 'won the case' in Federal District court and SSA had lost its rights to the treasure. Nothing could be further from the truth."

According to Harbeston, the nation has threatened to use military force to keep SSA from the treasure. SSA reportedly filed its San Jose discovery with Colombia back in 1982, but in 1984 a deal was violated and Colombia failed to let the American company from salvage the wreckage. Under that deal, the salvagers would have received 35-percent of the treasure.

Following this Colombia is said to have passed a law which would have effectively given the company about 2.5-percent of the discovery after taxes. SSA has been engaging in legal battles since, but there appears to be little hope for it now that Colombia has officially announced the discovery and claimed it as its own.

The exact contents of the ship aren't known at this point, but include precious stones and metals, and are estimated to be valued in the billions.