Terracotta plaques and other artifacts seized during a 2006 investigation were returned to the government of Iraq today in a Washington, D.C. ceremony that celebrated a successful law enforcement operation and the cultural significance of antiquities that are thousands of years old.
“These artifacts are truly invaluable,” said Ron Hosko, special agent in charge of the Criminal Division in our Washington Field Office. “The FBI is pleased to be able to return them to their rightful owner.”
The artifacts—some small enough to be held in the palm of one’s hand—were seized during a public corruption investigation conducted by our International Contract Corruption Task Force, a multi-agency task force whose mission is to stop fraud and corruption related to U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere overseas.
The artifacts were illegally taken in 2004 by Department of Defense contractors who were traveling through the Babylon region of Iraq. Investigators learned that the contractors collected the items and used them as gifts and bribes or sold them to other contractors who then smuggled them into the United States. Two of the contractors were sentenced to prison for their roles in the fraud scheme.