U.S. investigators said that the stolen antiquities were recovered through 11 separate investigations. Relics were seized by Customs Enforcement agents in El Paso, San Antonio and Fort Stockton, Texas; Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Chicago and Montana.
Arrowheads predominated, according to the Associated Press, but the smuggled items also included statues, figurines, copper hatchets, textiles and pottery. Pedro Sanchez, president of the National Archaeological Council of Mexico, said that several of the recovered pieces have “incalculable archaeological value.”
U.S. officials displayed the relics at the Mexican Consulate in El Paso as part of a repatriation ceremony on Thursday. They’ll be sent for study to the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.
About 200 items had been stolen in 2008 from the Cuatro Cienegas museum in the Mexican state of Coahuila. Authorities said that pottery recovered in Montana came from looted burial caves in the Copper Canyon region of Chihuahua, taken by members of the Tarahumara tribe who’d been paid by an art dealer who planned to consign the pieces to a gallery. Two hatchets were seized at San Diego International Airport after having been flown in from Sweden.