Hundreds of Mexican historical artifacts were detained and returned to Mexico by the US CBP



More than 200 Mexican artifacts seized by US customs agents, some dating to 900 BC, have been repatriated to the government of Mexico.

US Customs and Border Protection officers and Homeland Security Investigation special agents held a repatriation ceremony for 281 pieces of Mexican artifacts in Memphis Wednesday.

“On behalf of the US Customs and Border Protection, I am honored to return these priceless national treasures to the government and citizens of Mexico,” said Michael Neipert, Memphis area port director.

The artifacts arrived from Mexico in nine shipments between 2016 and 2021, en route to addresses in California, South Carolina, and Florida, according to a news release from customs officials in Memphis.

Some of the items were Olmec figures, grinding stones, clay and stone earmuffs, and a human head amulet. “Officers suspected the products to be cultural artifacts and detained them,” the release said.

Customs and Homeland Security agents partnered with their counterparts in Mexico to identify the items as historical artifacts.

Seven shipments have been repatriated. “We are still processing the final two shipments,” Customs and Border Protection press officer Stephen Sapp told CNN.

Bowls and other Mexican cultural artifacts repatriated to the Government of Mexico.

There are bilateral agreements in place to protect international cultural art and property, which directly prohibit the importation of archaeological and ethnological pieces without proper documentation.

“Customs and Border Protection will continue to use our border authority to identify, rescue, and return precious antiquities being smuggled by those who profit on the theft of another country’s historical and cultural property,” Neipert said.

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