FBI Returns Pre-Columbian Artifacts to Panama

Man, I love it when the news comes from a government press release. They give great backstory and sometimes (like this time), killer pictures.

In this case, the FBI returned over a hundred pre-Columbian artifacts to the government of Panama yesterday, including pottery and gold jewelry.

The FBI’s investigation revealed that the widow of an amateur archeologist was storing the items in and around Klamath Falls, Oregon. The investigation showed that the individual acquired many of the items while working as a teacher on a U.S. military base in Panama during the 1980s. It was also during this time that he married his wife, then a Panamanian citizen. The two brought many of the items with them when they moved back to the U.S. in the late 1980s. Over the years, the couple sold some of the items at various markets and on the Internet. The Klamath Falls man died of natural causes in October 2004. No charges are expected.

That’s one way to enhance your retirement funds, I suppose: loot for few years, get that “How to Sell on E-bay” book and go to town.

Panama has strict laws against antiquities ownership. Not only is stealing artifacts against the law, ownership of any kind is against the law. If it’s an antique from Panama it belongs to the government of Panama, full stop.