“More than 60 Iraqi cultural treasures illegally smuggled into the United States were returned to the Republic of Iraq Monday, following five separate investigations led by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI),” the press release read.
The DHS investigation found out that a Dubai-based antiquities dealer was selling looted Iraqi artifacts to dealers around the world. The HSI identified a broad transnational network that smuggled cultural artefacts directly to galleries in the United States.
The most significant repatriated artefacts include the Head of Assyrian King Sargon II, a limestone fragmentary head of Lamassu and the winged bull from the Palace of Sargon II, according to the DHS.
“These ancient treasures we are returning do not belong in the hands of any private collection or any one owner. They belong to the people of Iraq where they will be displayed and protected,” US Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Sarah Saldana was quoted as saying in the press release.
Since 2008, the US Immigration Customs Enforcement agency has returned more than 1,200 cultural items to Iraq in four repatriations, according to the DHS.