Egypt receives a collection of 123 ancient Egyptian antiquities that were smuggled to the United States.
CAIRO, EGYPT (APRIL 24, 2015) (REUTERS) – Egypt has received a collection of 123 ancient Egyptian antiquities that were smuggled to the United States following the 2011 uprising.
The collection included coffins from the third dynasty and wooden ships.
The antiquities arrived at Cairo airport on Friday (April 24).
Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty thanked the National Geographic Society for facilitating the retrieval.
“Egypt is celebrating today the return of a special collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts that were illegally smuggled abroad, and began appearing in New York,” the minister said.
The artifacts were found during a five-year investigation by the U.S. government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, targeting an international criminal network that illegally smuggled and imported more than 7,000 cultural items from around the world.
Damaty said security has been increased to protect antiquities in the country.
“Most of the smuggling took place during the first three years following the uprising. But during the last year, the grip was stronger. Border security are working very hard. The tourism and antiquities police are working very hard. The tourism and antiquities police, in recent weeks, have caught 74 cases! Which only shows the hard work that the police is doing to protect these antiquities,” the minister said.
On Saturday (April 25), another collection of 239 Egyptian antiquities were returned to Egypt from France.
Last week, the Egyptian embassy in Australia received 15 pieces, Damaty said.
The minister said Egypt will not allow smuggled Egyptian artifacts to remain abroad.
He said the smuggled goods often make many stops in various countries before they arrive at their destination.
Antiquities theft has flourished in Egypt in the three years of chaos since the 2011 uprising, robbing the ancient civilization of an indeterminate amount of heritage stolen from museums, mosques, storage facilities, and illegal excavations.