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October 6, 2023Los Angeles, CA, United StatesCultural Property, Art and Antiquities Investigations

HSI Los Angeles repatriates chalice to Argentine Republic

LOS ANGELES — Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles announced the repatriation of an artifact of cultural and ethnological significance to the Argentine Republic Oct. 5.

The return of the artifact took place at the Argentine Consulate in Los Angeles. Consul General Hector Monacci was present to take possession of the piece from Supervisory Special Agent Chad Fredrickson with HSI Ventura.

HSI agents recovered the vessel in Studio City during a routine inspection of items being shipped to the United States. Experts at the University of California, Los Angeles determined the item to be an ancient ceremonial drinking vessel originating in Argentina. A pre-Columbian art expert revealed the artifact was a genuine antiquity and dated it to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old. The piece belongs to the Condorhuasi-Alamito or Aguada cultures in present-day northwest Argentina.

"The vessel HSI agents recovered is a significant part of the ethnological and cultural history for the people in northwest Argentina,” said HSI Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang. "No one should profit from smuggled goods and this repatriation shows the success of cooperative efforts among foreign governments and HSI."

HSI’s cultural heritage investigations are not limited to illicit paleontological specimens. In fiscal year 2022, HSI’s Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities Program oversaw repatriations of cultural property to more than 15 countries, including France, India, Iraq, Italy and Mali.

Since 2007, HSI investigations have led to the repatriation of over 20,000 objects to more than 40 countries and institutions. The repatriated objects have included Nazi-looted art, French paintings, Egyptian sarcophagi, Italian sculpture, Roman coins, Greek vases, illuminated manuscripts and even human remains.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees is comprised of more than 6,000 special agents stationed in 237 U.S. cities and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents the largest DHS investigative law enforcement presence overseas and one of the largest in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI Los Angeles’ mission by following @HSILosAngeles on X, formerly known as Twitter.