Friday, April 3, 2009

Cultural Property Returned to Peru: Large Number of pre-Columbian Artifacts Returned

LAREDO, Texas - Officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Wednesday returned to the Peruvian government 334 pre-Columbian artifacts that were seized in 2007 following an ICE-led investigation.

The investigation began when ICE agents in Laredo received information from ICE's National Cyber Crimes Center about the alleged illegal sale in the Laredo area of Peruvian artifacts by a seller, Jorge Ernesto Lanas-Ugaz, 44.
Pre-Columbian artifacts returned to Peru
On March 1, 2007, a CBP officer at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport referred Lanas-Ugaz, who had just arrived from Lima, Peru, for a secondary examination. During CBP's inspection of Lanas-Ugaz's luggage, officers noted several items in bubble wrap, including a clay figurine of a man in a chair and clay bowls. CBP officers held the five items as possible pre-Columbian Peruvian artifacts, which are protected under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act. CBP contacted ICE, which had the artifacts evaluated by archeologists from the American Museum of Natural History. Museum archaeologists confirmed that the items are authentic pre-Columbian and have significant cultural value.

Four days later, ICE, CBP and Laredo Police Department officers executed a federal search warrant at Lanas-Ugaz's home in Laredo. They discovered many additional authentic artifacts, which included: textiles, ceramic figures, wood sculptures, and metal and stone art. All the items had been illegally exported from Peru into the United States. Lanas-Ugaz, a U.S. citizen, was arrested at his home without incident.
Peruvian Pre-Columbian Cultural Heritage
This is one of the largest seizures of Peruvian pre-Columbian artifacts into the south Texas area. Peru is one of the signatories to a 1970 General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Through the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, the United States entered into a cultural property agreement with the Peruvian government to help protect archaeological and ethnological materials through import controls. Read the entire article here....

Read the 1970 General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

Read the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act here.

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