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Luxor Times: 2 years work led to expose an international network of antiquities smugglers

Luxor Times

Friday 15 July 2011

2 years work led to expose an international network of antiquities smugglers

In the framework of co-operation between Egypt and the United States in the fight against smuggling of antiquities ... The security authorities in New York arrested today three people involved in the trafficking of stolen artefacts within a large international network of few individuals, including a Jordanian nationality holder who lives in the UAE, An Iranian, Palestinian and Iraqi persons.
Dr. Zahi Hawass have received information from the Department of Homeland Security in New York, indicating the existence of Egyptian antiques in one of the antiquities galleries in New York and many objects were seized and confiscated by U.S. authorities. Zahi added that he has inspected the artifacts and pointed out that the confiscated collection includes antiquities from Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Palestine, including a range of sarcophagus dated back to the Third Intermediate Period (1070-660 BC) and 26th Dynasty (688-525 BC).
Hawass said that the Egyptian objects out of that collection are 10 objects, he added “based on the agreement with the security authorities in the U.S. it was agreed that confidentiality of the proceedings as to arrest the international gang members and find out the names of those who helped in the smuggling the antiquities from Egypt and that he only informed Dr.Essam Sharaf, Egyptian Prime Minister on the details of this issue ... Also it is expected within hours to retrieve other Egyptian artefacts at one of the defendants’ home.
Dr. Hawass said that he was supposed to attend an international press conference with the U.S. side to announce the details of this case, however the escape attempt of one of the members of the gang and arresting him shortly precipitated the announcement today about the details of the case, which was followed up and tracked in Egypt, UAE, England and Iraq and other countries to reach the members of this international network specialised in smuggling antiquities to the United States.

Zahi Hawass confirmed that the Egyptian objects will be returned to the country during the next few months after the completion of the proceedings against the accused in the theft of antiquities from a number of countries in the Middle East and traveling the United States of America for trade. He said that U.S. authorities will inform Egypt within days with the names of the involved Egyptians in the smuggling of antiquities and in money laundering.
In 2009, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had detected a container filled with artefacts was shipped to a New York gallery including an ancient Egyptian sarcophagi which was retrieved beside a number of smuggled artefacts. U.S. security sources indicated that they were able to obtain evidences confirming that New York Gallery display stolen antiquities on sale.
The American sources mentioned that in 2003 the New York gallery has acquired more than 1000 artefacts from all over the world. About 77% of these artefacts were found to be stolen from Middle Eastern countries.

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