Colombia: US returns ancient artefacts seized in anti-trafficking operation


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The United States returned 11 pre-Colombian archaeological artefacts at a ceremony in the National Museum in Bogota on Wednesday.
The Colombian Minister of Culture Carmen Ines Vasquez Camacho was joined by an Undersecretary of the US Department of State Aleisha Woodward.
"I'm extremely pleased that the United Stated have returned them [items] today to Colombia," said the US representative, adding that repatriation of such artefacts is not easy. "It's not like you put these things in a FedEx box or DHL and just send them back," she noted.
From her part, Colombian Minister of Culture underlined the impact of illicit trafficking of cultural heritage on "assets and collections of archaeological sites, churches, museums, private collections and, in general, entities responsible for caring for them." She also said that the return of the items was only possible thanks to cooperation of many organisations, including Interpol, the International Council of Museums, the Organisation of American States, the UN, the Andean Community, and MERCOSUR.
Authorities acted on a tip-off after being alerted to an elderly collector who had so many treasures that he could have started his own little museum.
Donald Miller was found to have illegally purchased nearly 1,000 objects from more than 200 countries including Colombia, New Guinea, Russia, China and the US.
The 11 pieces were part of 40 Colombian artefacts seized by the FBI. The other 29 were handed over in a ceremony at the Colombian Embassy in Washington D.C.
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