Looting and illicit antiquities trafficking continues despite protective measures both in Peru and abroad. Thankfully, U.S. import restrictions have resulted in the confiscation and return of many artifacts to Peru, including 18th century religious artifacts stolen from churches and thousand-year-old human skulls torn from their graves. According to the International Council of Museums’ Red List of Peruvian Antiquities at Risk, over 5,000 looted objects were seized between 2004 and 2006 thanks to the MOU.
In one of the largest busts of trafficked antiquities, U.S. Customs seized 412 pre-Columbian artifacts—including silver masks, Inca quipus, and effigy vessels—from an Italian art thief, and returned them to Peru in 2007. Since 2010, U.S. Customs has intercepted and returned to Peru the above-mentioned pre-Columbian human skulls and 18th century manuscript, Inca pottery, Moche sculpture, and textiles. In 2011, a Moche gold bead in the shape of a monkey head in the Museum of New Mexico’s Palace of the Governors was returned to Peru after it was identified as having been illegally removed from the royal tombs of Sipán.