CLEVELAND – One hundred and ninety ancient Roman coins that were illegally imported into the United States from the United Arab Emirates were seized by officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The ancient coins were originally detained in March 2014 during a routine inspection at the Port of Cincinnati cargo facility by CBP officers before the investigation was turned over to HSI. The intended recipient told investigators the coins were of Middle Eastern origin based on information received from an overseas seller. CBP officers contacted a coin expert to authenticate the coin’s origins and learned they were late 2nd or 3rd century Roman coins.
Authorities subsequently issued a seizure notice to the intended recipient alleging entry of goods by means of false statements. The intended recipient abandoned the claim to the coins, which will now be repatriated to the appropriate country of origin at a later date. The coins have an estimated value of approximately $1,000.
HSI plays a leading role in criminal investigations that involve illegally importing and distributing cultural property, including illicit trafficking of cultural property, especially objects that have been reported lost or stolen. HSI International Operations, through its 64 attaché offices in 46 countries, works closely with foreign governments to conduct joint investigations, when possible.
HSI's specially trained investigators assigned to both domestic and international offices, partner with governments, agencies and experts to protect cultural antiquities. They also provide cultural property investigative training to law enforcement partners for crimes involving stolen property and art, and how to best enforce the law to recover these items when they emerge in the marketplace.
Since 2007, more than 7,200 artifacts have been returned to 30 countries, including paintings from France, Germany, Poland and Austria; 15th to 18th century manuscripts from Italy and Peru; as well as cultural artifacts from China, Cambodia and Iraq.
Learn more about HSI cultural property, art and antiquities investigations. Members of the public who have information about suspected stolen cultural property are urged to call the toll-free HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or to complete its online tip form.