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Stolen Ancient Mayan Artifacts Being Returned To Guatemala

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It didn’t take Indiana Jones to crack the case, but what federal agents recovered would have been right up his alley.

Alex DeMetrick reports ancient Mayan artifacts were returned Friday to their rightful owner.

Some go back a thousand years, all fashioned by Mayan craftsmen well before Columbus. All are going home.

“We are eager to take these artifacts back to Guatemala and display them properly in our nation, and through them provide a glimpse into the Mayan civilization,” Harold Caballeros, the Guatemalan foreign minister, said.

The eight artifacts were recovered by U.S. immigrations and customs agents. Six of the artifacts were discovered after they were flown into Houston, Texas and then abandoned when customs agents started asking questions. The other two made their way to an auction house in Boston, Mass. that cooperated with agents after import documents were not found.

Friday, they made their way to the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“There are far too many art and antiquity thieves who know no bounds to immorality and are more than willing to go and loot and steal,” ICE Director John Morton said.

But it was pens and paperwork, not bullwhips and guns, that reunited art and owner.

The total value of the pieces was appraised at $20,000. But culturally…

“These pieces are invaluable to Guatemalan culture,” Caballeros said.

And they will be displayed for all to see.

No arrests in the smuggling cases have been made, although federal agents say investigations are ongoing.

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