The U.S. government returned more than 270 pre-Columbian archaeological pieces to Mexico in an effort to recover and respect the country’s cultural heritage, according to a statement from the Mexican government on Tuesday.
The pieces were seized after two separate investigations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations special agents, according to a statement from ICE. The Nogales mission began in October 2012, and the Phoenix case started in October 2013.
The first group of artifacts returned included pre-Hispanic archaeological pieces, the majority of which are made from stone, officials said. The second group was comprised of 10 objects, the most notable of which are anthropomorphic ceramic figurines.
The Mexican government touted the repatriation as a coordinated effort by Mexico and the U.S.
“[The repatriation] is an example of the daily and coordinated work carried out by the institutions of the Mexican government and of the shared commitment with the United States government to recover, protect and respect the cultural, historical and archaeological heritage of our peoples,” Mexican Secretary of Culture Alejandra Frausto Guerrero said in a statement.
The artifacts were delivered to the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City to be catalogued, studied, safeguarded and publicized, according to Mexican officials.
The repatriation of the artifacts was in accordance with a treaty signed by the U.S. and Mexico 50 years ago to recover stolen archaeological and cultural antiques.
“50 years ago, our countries signed a collaboration treaty to recover stolen archaeological and cultural antiquities,” Laura Biedebach, the U.S. consul general in Nogales, said in a statement.
“This agreement has led us to work together closely to return property that has been taken illegally out of the country to which it belongs. Today that work has paid off and we can celebrate these actions,” she added.
Biedebach continued, “The Government of the United States will continue to collaborate with all agencies and across borders, in keeping with its commitment to stop the theft and trafficking of cultural heritage.”
Source: The Hill