Ancient Coins Returned to Saudi Arabia

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 7, 2006 | Go to article overview

Ancient Coins Returned to Saudi Arabia


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has returned to the Saudi government more than 130 pounds of ancient coins that agents seized from a man who had removed them illegally from a shipwreck in the Red Sea.

"Artifacts such as these coins are not trinkets that can be pilfered and sold to the highest bidder," said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who heads ICE. "To their rightful owners, these artifacts are priceless items that are cherished and proudly displayed as a testament to their cultural history."

A tip by a confidential informant to ICE in Miami resulted in an investigation that led agents to a Key West, Fla., man who admitted to taking the coins improperly while spearfishing in an area near Jidda in Saudi Arabia in 1994, said ICE spokesman Marc Raimondi.

Records show that the Florida man, who was not identified, communicated in Internet chat rooms that focused on Islamic coins in order to learn how to restore the coins and solicit buyers. Agents engaged the man by e-mail, eventually identifying themselves as ICE agents and later confronting him in person.

Mr. Raimondi said the man later voluntarily surrendered the coins to the agents. …

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