Found in a Brooklyn garage, this nesting sarcophagus is headed back to Egypt. Photo courtesy of ICE.

Found in a Brooklyn garage, this nesting sarcophagus is headed back to Egypt. Photo courtesy of ICE.

Here’s the latest on repatriation efforts from Operation Mummy’s Curse:

ICE returns ancient artifacts to Egypt at National Geographic Society

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement repatriated dozens of illegally smuggled ancient artifacts to the government of Egypt, including a Greco-Roman style Egyptian sarcophagus, at a ceremony Wednesday at the National Geographic Society in Washington.

The return of these ancient artifacts was made possible by “Operation Mummy’s Curse,” an ongoing five-year investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations targeting an international criminal network that illegally smuggled and imported more than 7,000 cultural items from around the world.

On Sept. 8, 2009, HSI New York recovered the nesting sarcophagus from a garage in Brooklyn, New York. One year later, on Sept. 24, 2010, following leads from the Brooklyn case, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized a shipment of smuggled Egyptian goods, including a funerary boat model and figurines. A related December 2010 shipment interception netted agents 638 ancient coins from different countries, 65 of which are being repatriated to Egypt today.

Other antiquities returned include two Middle Kingdom wooden boat models and a series of finely carved limestone reliefs from an Egyptian temple.

All aboard for a return trip to Egypt. Photo courtesy of ICE.

All aboard for a return trip to Egypt. Photo courtesy of ICE.

The ongoing investigation has identified a criminal network of smugglers, importers, money launderers, restorers and purchasers who used illegal methods to avoid detection as these items entered the United States. Items and funds were traced back to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Iraq and other nations.

To date, Operation Mummy’s Curse has secured four indictments, two convictions, 19 search warrants, and 16 seizures totalling approximately $3 million. The agency is also seeking an international fugitive involved in the case.

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