US returns 192 stolen artifacts worth $3.4mn to Pakistan

The United States has returned 192 artefacts worth $3.4 million to Pakistan. One of the prominent stolen artefacts of Buddha or a Gandharan statue of a Maitreya that was stolen from Pakistan during the 1990s and trafficked into New York County is among the items being returned.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s (MDA) office in New York confirmed the news. Alvin L Bragg, Jr, Manhattan district attorney revealed that the artefacts were returned.

The MDA in a statement said that among 192, 187 antiques were seized against smuggler Shubhash Kapoor during the office’s inquiry; the remaining were retrieved during other ongoing criminal investigations.

The Office issued a warrant for Kapoor’s arrest in 2012. Kapoor along with seven co-defendants was charged in November 2019 by the Office for conspiring to sell stolen artefacts. The office submitted documents to India in July 2020 on behalf of Kapoor and other co-defendants who reside in India.

Kapoor and Sanjeev Asokan were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for their involvement in selling the stolen Indian artefacts. In addition to being fined and given a 13-year prison sentence, Kapoor was also found guilty of receiving stolen items.

Ayesha Ali, Consul General of Pakistan in New York and US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Thomas Acocella said, ” Subhash Kapoor was one of the world`s most prolific antiquities traffickers, yet thanks to the work of our dedicated investigators and analysts, we have been able to recover thousands of pieces looted by his network. We will continue to pursue full accountability against Mr Kapoor and his co-conspirators, who showed a blatant disregard for the cultural and historic significance of these antiquities.”

The DA’s Office and HSI recovered over 2,500 goods trafficked by Kapoor and his network between 2011 and 2022.

Other defendants found guilty were Richard Salmon, Neil Perry, Selina Mohamed, Aaron Freedman and Sushma Sareen.