Spain Returns Colombian Artifacts Seized from Drug Gangs

Following a long legal battle, a pre-Columbian treasure trove of 691 pieces, seized during a drug-related police operation in Spain 11 years ago, has returned to Bogotá. The museum-worthy archaeological art pieces, some of them dating back to 1400BC, had been smuggled out of Colombia by a man specialized in money laundering for drug cartels, reports the BBC.

The drug bust took place in 2003, and since then, Colombia had been battling legally to avoid the items being returned to their previous owner or remaining in Spain.

The stunning collection, estimated to be worth some $7 million, includes ceramic sculptures, funeral urns and musical instruments, made by the main civilizations that lived in the region before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in South America in the 16th Century.

In a daring move, which proved the reluctance of the Spanish authorities to return the finds, the pieces had recently been put on display at the Museo de América in Madrid. Shortly after, however, a court ordered that they were returned to the Colombian authorities.

During a press briefing, in which 50 of the remarkable pieces were presented, the Foreign Ministry Maria Angela Holguin announced that a public exhibition of the artifacts will open in Colombia next year.


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