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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Import Specialists and Officers Seize Priceless Egyptian Artifacts

Release Date: 
July 31, 2012

Laredo, Texas - Officers and import specialists from the Import Specialist Enforcement Team (ISET) at U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Laredo Port of Entry, working in close coordination with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), recently seized two priceless Egyptian sarcophagi-type artifacts.

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.

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.

A CBP officer at World Trade Bridge selected a shipment manifested as Egyptian sculptures for an enforcement examination. In the course of 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 on July 9 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.

Proper export documentation from the Egyptian government is required to transport the artifacts out of their country of origin.

Proper export documentation from the Egyptian government is required to transport the artifacts out of their country of origin.

"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. "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."

"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.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017