LOUISVILLE (KT) – United States Customs and Border Protection officers in Louisville, with the assistance of officers from the National Targeting Center Antiquities Unit, intercepted a shipment containing 13 pieces of ancient artifacts from the 10th century.
The shipment arrived from Mexico and was headed for a residence in Sumter, South Carolina. A subject matter expert from the ancient Americas determined that the collection dates from the post-classical era to the Aztec era, AD 1100 to 1532. The collection included a skull and 12 adzes (chopping tools).
“I am extremely proud that our officers were able to prevent invaluable artifacts from being lost forever,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, CBP’s director of field operations at the local Chicago office. “Customs and border protection will continue to use our border authority to identify and rescue valuable antiques smuggled by those who profit from the theft of historical and cultural property and return them to their rightful owners. “
Most countries have laws to protect their cultural property, such as art, artefacts, antiquities or other archaeological and ethnological material. These laws include export controls and national ownership of cultural property. Therefore, although they do not necessarily confer ownership, recipients or importers must have documents such as export permits and receipts when importing these items into the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security enforces import restrictions on cultural property agreed to in bilateral agreements the United States has with 20 countries and through emergency import restrictions for three other countries. These bilateral agreements protect cultural property by restricting the importation into the United States of certain categories of archaeological and ethnological materials, thereby reducing the incentive for looting at heritage sites.
Since October 2020, the start of the current federal fiscal year, the agency has recorded 21 seizures of cultural property with a national value of more than $ 18 million. CBP partners with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the detection, interception, investigation and repatriation of cultural property.