A total of 280 archaeological pieces were repatriated to Mexico at a ceremony held at the Consulate General of Mexico in Nogales, Arizona March 9.
The vast majority of the pre-Hispanic pieces – 270 – had been stolen from archaeological sites in the state of Sonora and seized by U.S. Customs agents as couriers tried to smuggle them across the border, noted a press release from Mexico’s Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH).
The remaining ten pieces, a series of anthropomorphic ceramic figures taken from pre-Hispanic tombs in western Mexico, were returned to Mexico from the Chandler Museum in Arizona.
Laura Biedebach, the U.S. consul general in Nogales, Sonora, stressed that the U.S. government will “maintain its commitment to stop the theft and trafficking of cultural heritage.”
Mexican anthropologist José Luis Perea González said the repatriation of the ancient items comes at “an opportune moment,” since this year commemorates the 500th anniversary of the taking of Tenochtitlan – the Aztec capital on which Mexico City now lies. He called that event “a foundational and heartbreaking encounter between the cultural universes of Western Europe and America.”