ICE and CBP officials return pre-Columbian artifacts to Panama
ICE News Release 4/27/2011
WASHINGTON - Today at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters, ICE Director John Morton and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Assistant Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski repatriated 99 pre-Columbian artifacts seized as a result of operations by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and CBP in Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., to Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli.
"Sadly, the theft and trafficking of cultural artifacts is one of the oldest forms of organized cross-border crime," said ICE Director Morton. "While seizing, forfeiting and repatriating cultural artifacts like these is indeed reason for celebration, our long-term goal is to reduce the incentive for further destruction of ancient tombs and temples, where so many of these objects are dug up or chiseled off and pilfered."
"The joint efforts to identify and return such important Panamanian artifacts exemplify the outstanding level of cooperation and partnership between the Panama and the United States to fight different types of international crime and specifically to protect our historical patrimony and culture," said President Martinelli. "We remain committed to working closely with the United States to any necessary undertake measures to preserve our cultural heritage, and it is my sincere hope that efforts such as these will lead to the end the trafficking of illegal antiquitiesaround the world."