A special Mexican crime control unit to track down illegally trafficked works of art

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Mexico will form a special anti-crime unit dedicated to the search and repatriation of looted works of art and antiques, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador said.

The announcement was made during the opening of the La Grandeza de México exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Antropología this week following the successful recovery of various archaeological pieces to be sold in Italy.

López Obrador said he was inspired by the work of the Italian Tutela Patrimonio Culturale, the unit attached to the Italian police force specializing in the recovery of stolen works of art. He also congratulated the Italian gendarmerie, called Arma dei Carabinieri, for having supported Mexico in the recovery of the looted pre-Hispanic pieces.

“We will already follow the Italian example,” he said. “I have already asked a special team to be put in place to achieve this goal.”

“Imagine if each country had such a unity and worked together to repatriate works that had been looted or trafficked from their country of origin,” said the president.

Details on the new artistic crime unit have yet to be released. The news surprised some who observed that Mexico already has a number of specialized groups dealing with repatriation. Mexican officials did not respond to a request for comment at the time of this posting.

It is understood that the new force will operate within the Guardia Nacional, the civil security force formed shortly after López Obrador took office in 2019. Earlier this year, he sought to increase the amount allocated to the Guardia Nacional by $ 2.5 million over the next two years. with the aim of making the organization “incorruptible”.

The Museo Nacional de Antropología itself was the subject of a daring theft in 1985, which saw two former students steal more than 150 objects. Almost all of the artifacts were found in Mexico City a few years later, and the heist was later fictionalized in the 2018 feature film, Museo.

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