On Tuesday the FBI announced it was returning 150 pre-Columbian artifacts which had been smuggled out of Peru and Ecuador. The objects were found in the home of a recently deceased man, who had apparently been a collector of the antiquities.
The 153 pieces of jewelry as well as pottery, baskets, sculptures and figurines were found last April in the home of a man after he died in his retirement community in Avon Park, Florida, according to the bureau’s Miami field office.
Experts indicated that the artifacts, presented in a Miami ceremony to representatives of the Peru and Ecuador governments, were between 500 and 3,200 years old, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
The FBI teamed up with specialists from Florida International University who determined that 141 of the pieces originated in what is present-day Peru, and the other 12 came from neighboring Ecuador.
“These artifacts represent the cultural heritage of Peru and Ecuador. They can never be replaced and should be on display for many to see, not locked away,” said the FBI’s chief agent in Miami, John Gillies.
“We are honored to return these items to their rightful owners,” Gillies added.
These announcements have become almost routine, with an estimated 2,600 items recovered just since 2004.
- AFP: FBI returns smuggled artifacts to Peru, Ecuador, Dec. 1, 2009.