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Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities Investigations
11/17/2014

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Pre-Columbian artifacts returned to Colombia following HSI, CBP case

Director of Repatriation of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Architect Juan Luis Isaza Londono  United States Ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker  Colombian Deputy Attorney General, Jorge Fernando Perdomo  Viceminister of Multilateral Affairs Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations, Carlos Arturo Morales Lopez  Director of the Colombian Institute of Anthropology, Fabian Sanabria Sanchez
Left to Right: Director of Repatriation of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Architect Juan Luis Isaza Londono, United States Ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker, Colombian Deputy Attorney General, Jorge Fernando Perdomo, Viceminister of Multilateral Affairs Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations, Carlos Arturo Morales Lopez, Director of the Colombian Institute of Anthropology, Fabian Sanabria Sanchez.

U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker returned six pre-Columbian artifacts to the government of Colombia Nov. 12 following a joint law enforcement investigation between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The pre-Columbian artifacts include three bowls and three goblets that are from the area near the Colombia-Ecuador border and are from between 800-1500AD. CBP officers in Miami seized the artifacts after they were identified during a routine air cargo inspection. The artifacts were later turned over to the HSI Bogota Attaché for repatriation.

“Cultural artifacts represent the fabric of a nation and should never be taken from its place of origin,” said HSI Bogota Attaché Luis Sierra. “HSI is committed to working with CBP and other law enforcement partners to ensure that items representing the culture history of a nation aren’t taken from their rightful owners.”

HSI plays a leading role in investigating crimes involving the illicit importation and distribution of cultural property. HSI uses its investigative authority to seize cultural property items if they were illegally imported into the United States. HSI’s Office of International Operations, through its 67 attaché offices in 48 countries, works closely with foreign governments to conduct joint investigations, when possible.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/18/2014