Peru police seize over 4,500 more stolen pre-Columbian artifacts sold in a Cuzco souvenir shop and promoted on the internet

Peru’s National Police have recovered 5,350 stolen pre-Columbian artifacts promoted via a video on the internet and sold in a front souvenir shop in Cuzco’s main plaza.

On September 10, police, two district attorneys and four archaeologists raided a shop, located just meters away from Cuzco’s central plaza and across the street from the city’s famed Inca Museum, and found 690 Incan and pre-Inca objects, including textiles, earthen vessels, other finely made pottery artworks and gold and silver work.

Daily El Comercio reported that further and more thorough investigation over the past week led police to find 4,600 more pieces, bringing the total number of stolen artifacts to 5,350.

The suspect in the case, Mauro Alvítez Mendoza reportedly told authorities the artifacts seized by police were part of an inheritance and that the other objects were gifts.

Mendoza and his wife Mercedes Sayre Quispe allegedly used the Internet to promote and sell the artifacts in a half-hour video, Cuzco Tourism Police Chief Carlos Suárez Garrido told state news agency Andina. The couple were arrested on charges of trafficking cultural patrimony, but were released on their own recognizance under a written promise to appear in court.

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