May 12, 2011 / 6:36 PM / 8 years ago

U.S. returns smuggled Peruvian artifacts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An 18th century manuscript, pottery dating back to A.D. 300 and other smuggled artifacts were returned to Peru by U.S. customs officials on Thursday at the Peruvian Embassy.

The repatriated items, domestic and ceremonial in nature, were at approximately $43,000.

They included an Inca pottery vessel from between A.D. 1400 and 1500, a pot with feline designs from between A.D. 300 and 360, handmade textiles and two headbands possibly used in graves along the Pacific coast of Peru, and a 1,200 to 1,500 year old stone jaguar-human sculpture.

“The antiquities we are returning today are more than mere objects. They are remarkable treasures of untold historical significance, which provide clues into the lives of our ancestors,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Director for International Affairs Luis Alvarez.

In the case of the 18th century manuscript, the investigation involved ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in New York and Denver and Customs and Border Protection in Houston.

After Peruvian officials and ICE agents gave leads on an antiques dealer known to have possessed stolen items and to have traveled extensively to and from Peru, CBP searched the man’s luggage and found what would later be identified as a stolen manuscript from Recoleta Library in Araquipa.

The accused man passed away before authorities could prosecute him.

In April 2010, 12 pre-Columbian human skulls were repatriated to Peru by ICE and CBP in the first case of this case of this kind.

Since 2007, ICE has returned around 2,400 cultural objects to 19 countries.

Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton

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