LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Federal authorities today held a ``repatriation ceremony'' to return 16 recovered cultural items, some of which are 400 years old, to representatives of the Peruvian Consulate.
The items were recovered following investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Art Crime Team, according to the agency.
The ceremony was held Friday morning at the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office, said Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the field office.
The repatriated cultural property includes two paintings, 10 historical documents and four stone axes, said Johnson, who was joined at the ceremony by the Consul General of the Peruvian Consulate in Los Angeles, and various other officials.
The items, displayed at the ceremony, ``represent the rich history of Peru from its Pre-Columbian era through its Spanish Colonial period, and into the 20th Century,'' according to the FBI.
``On behalf of the FBI's Art Crime Team, it's my honor to return these national treasures to the people of Peru,'' Johnson said.
``These objects and the heritage they carry with them took an opaque journey into the United States and now have a clear path of return to Peru through proper diplomatic channels,'' Johnson said. ``When they arrive, the Peruvian people can properly behold and care for them, rather than have their fate dictated by the whims of individuals who remove them for personal gain and self-interest.''
The recovered items include the paintings ``Virgin of Guadalupe,'' which was stolen in February of 2002 from the Santiago Apostle Church in Ollantaytambo, Peru; and ``Pentecost,'' which was stolen in April of 1992 from the Church of Santa Cruz De Orurillo in Puna, Peru.
The FBI's Art Crime Team was created in 2003 in response to an increase in cultural property crimes worldwide and is comprised of a national team of agents based in major cities who specialize in art crime investigations and in returning art and cultural property to its rightful owner.
Art and cultural item buyers are encouraged to review the FBI's Stolen
Art File as a resource, prior to a purchase, to determine if the item has been reported as stolen to the FBI. For more information about the FBI's Art Crime Team and the National Stolen Art File, go to the website www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/art-theft .