US CBP Intercepts Ancient Stone Sculptures at Miami International Airport

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Miami International Airport intercepted an air cargo shipment containing ancient stone carvings from Cameroon known as “Ikom Monoliths”.

Experts believe the artifacts date back between 200 A.D. and 1000 A.D. Investigators found that the stone sculptures had been exported to the United States using fraudulent documents and the items will be repatriated to Cameroon.CBP officers at Miami International Airport intercepted an air cargo shipment containing ancient stone carvings.

Most countries have laws that protect their cultural property, such as art, artifacts, antiquities, or other archeological and ethnological material. These laws include export controls and national ownership of cultural property. Therefore, although they do not necessarily confer ownership, consignees or importers must have documents such as export permits and receipts when importing such items into the United States.

“CBP has a critical role in protecting cultural property and preventing illicit trafficking,” said Robert Del Toro, CBP’s Acting Port Director at Miami International Airport. “This is just the latest example of ever-vigilant CBP teams working with our federal partners to enforce international repatriation laws of ancient artifacts.”

CBP regularly conducts operations at ports of entry throughout the United States and screens arriving international passengers and cargo for narcotics, weapons, and other restricted or prohibited products.

CBP recorded 23 seizures of cultural property during 2019 with a domestic value of nearly $1 million. CBP partners with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the detection, interception, investigation and repatriation of cultural property. Find out more about ICE Cultural Property investigations.