Immediately following the January 25 revolution in Egypt, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the Saqqara archeological site were both heavily looted. Since then, attention has been brought to the dangerously high incidents of theft and illicit trafficking of Egyptian archaeological sites and storerooms. The United States has decided to step in- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) have joined forces with the U.S. Embassy in Egypt to put on a workshop titled “Countering Antiquities Trafficking at Egypt’s Ports and Borders” to improve the country’s abilities to prevent the illegal exportation of cultural artifacts and increase communication between Egyptian law enforcement and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
The four-day workshop included visits to the Egyptian Museum and the Saqqara archeological site where most of the looting occurred. Members were invited to witness the opening of an exhibit featuring looted objects that had been returned to the Egyptian government which included a sarcophagus seized in 2008 by CBP officers assigned to the Port of Miami. Investigations to recover stolen pieces continue and with the newly formed alliance between the United States and Egypt, perhaps valuable objects will see safer days in Egypt.
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“ICE HSI helps Egyptian law enforcement agencies counter antiquities trafficking”