ICE, Thai Police Recover Cultural Antiquities, Fossils

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 27, 2005 | Go to article overview

ICE, Thai Police Recover Cultural Antiquities, Fossils


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Royal Thai Police (RTP) Friday announced the recovery of more than 1,300 pounds of priceless fossils and Thai and Khmer cultural antiquities slated for sale and exportation.

"These fossils are part of Thailand's historical record and are not for sale to the highest bidder," said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia, who heads ICE. "Anybody possessing these items in the United States needs to do the right thing and ... arrange for the artifacts to be returned."

ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said ICE agents in Bangkok received information in July that a Thai national, Piriya Vachajitpan, was selling Thai and Cambodian antiquities via online auction and illegally shipping the artifacts to the United States. He said ICE agents, working with the RTP, maintained undercover contact with Mr. Vachajitpan and discussed the purchase of indigenous fossils from Thailand, as well as Buddha images from both Thailand and Cambodia.

On Monday, undercover ICE and RTP agents met with Mr. Vachajitpan to purchase indigenous fossils from Thailand and Burma, and during the undercover negotiations, Mr. …

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