Customs agents thwart attempted smuggling of 12th-century artifacts in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A shipment of antiques containing more than a dozen artifacts, some of which dated to the 12th century, was intercepted by customs officials in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 24.

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“I’m extremely proud that our officers were able to stop priceless artifacts from being lost forever,” LaFonda Sutton-Burke, director of field operations for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Chicago Field Office, stated in a news release.

The shipment, en route from Mexico to a residence in Sumter, South Carolina, was seized by CBP officers in Louisville with help from officers in the National Targeting Center’s antiquities unit.

“Customs and Border Protection will continue to use our border authority to identify and rescue precious antiquities being smuggled by those who profit on the theft of historical and cultural property and return them to their rightful owners,” Sutton-Burke added.

According to the CBP, a subject matter expert in ancient Americas determined that the collection, which included one skull as 12 chopping tools, dated from Post-classic to the Aztec era, or from roughly 1100 AD through 1532 AD.

The agency has recorded 21 seizures of cultural property with a domestic value of more than $18 million since the beginning of fiscal year 2020.