Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Artifacts Returned to El Salvador

USA Today reports that US officials returned dozens of Pre-Columbian and Mayan artifacts to the country of El Salvador today following a joint investigation led U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the National Civilian Police of El Salvador.

USA Today provided a link to the ICE website where a statement about the investigation is available. The investigation began three years ago, when a customs agent observed what appeared to be artifacts coming into the United States with a destination of Alabama. The investigation led to the arrest of a man and woman in El Salvador who were advertising Mayan and pre-Columbian artifacts on sites such as E-Bay and selling to customers in the United States and around the world.

ICE Deputy Assistant Secretary Alonzo Pena said today,
We are celebrating today the fruitful collaboration of all our agencies in protecting the cultural heritage of the people of Latin America. More than that, we are honoring the dedication of our law enforcement officers in working together to find the culprits in this Internet scheme, stop the leeching of priceless pieces of El Salvador's history and bring those responsible to justice. This is another step in our long partnership with El Salvador.
The US has a Memorandum of Understanding with El Salvador concerning the import of pre-Hispanic archaeological artifacts. The Memorandum, which was first signed in March of 1995, was recently extended for another five-year period. It imposes import restrictions on artifacts leaving El Salvador without an export permit or without documentation that proves the objects first left El Salvador before the restrictions were established.

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