By: Special to The Laredo Sun
A CBP officer at World Trade Bridge selected a shipment manifested as Egyptian sculptures for an enforcement examination. During their examination, CBP officers discovered that the shipment included possible Egyptian antiquities and contacted ISET.
Laredo ISET had recently been made aware of possible stolen artifacts of Egyptian origin and contacted Laredo HSI for further investigation. Laredo HSI contacted the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities and discovered that the artifacts, two sarcophagi, one adorned with a wooden mask with glass eyes and the other with a standing lady of painted stucco over linen, were indeed antiquities and the rightful property of Egypt.
Proper export documentation from the Egyptian government is required to transport the artifacts out of their country of origin. Working in coordination with HSI and with Office of Assistant Chief Counsel, CBP determined that the artifacts would be seized due to a lack of export documentation to substantiate legal exportation of the artifacts from Egypt.
The artifacts are deemed priceless.
“This seizure reflects good collaborative work between CBP officers, import specialists and HSI to ensure enforcement of U.S. law and international conventions protecting cultural property,” said Jose Uribe, CBP Assistant Port Director, Laredo Port of Entry.
He continued, “These artifacts are the priceless cultural patrimony of Egypt. CBP and HSI will continue to move forward with the forfeiture process to provide for, if no valid petitions are granted, an eventual return of these artifacts to Egypt.”
Egypt 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 Egyptian government to help protect archaeological and ethnological materials through import controls.
"These are precisely the types of treasures that ICE's Cultural Property Art and Antiquities unit was established to identify, investigate and return to their rightful owners.We are very pleased to have rescued the two priceless Egyptian artifacts and look forward to returning them to the Egyptian government,” said Jerry Robinette, Special Agent in Charge of HSI in San Antonio.
Edited by: C.R.