4 defendants indicted in Peruvian artifact smuggling case

04 Apr 2013 8:11 AM | Anonymous

4 defendants indicted in Peruvian artifact smuggling case

SALT LAKE CITY undefined A federal grand jury indicted four defendants Wednesday on charges of smuggling Peruvian artifacts and interstate transportation of stolen property following an undercover probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Cesar Guarderas, 70, and Rosa Isabel Guarderas, 45, naturalized U.S. citizens from West Valley City and Peruvian nationals Javier Abanto-Sarmiento, 39, and Alfredo Abanto-Sarmiento, 36, are named in the indictment. According to court records, the defendants allegedly illegally imported authentic cultural artifacts by using a contact at the National Institute of Culture of Peru who provided forged government documents certifying the items were replicas.

HSI special agents began investigating Javier Abanto-Sarmiento and Cesar Guarderas last October. By November 2012, an undercover special agent had arranged purchases of Peruvian artifacts from Guarderas, making a $3,000 down payment for two artifacts and later purchasing an additional 10 artifacts for $20,000. Investigators say Guarderas represented the items were authentic and not replicas. Experts from Utah Valley and Tulane Universities and tests conducted at a University of Washington, Seattle laboratory have determined the artifacts are genuine.

Over the course of the investigation, HSI special agents captured the defendants discussing the trafficking conspiracy including Cesar Guarderas saying Javier Abanto-Sarmiento had access to more than 100 pieces of pottery in Peru and was willing to ship them to the United States. They were also recorded discussing how the ring bribes officials in Peru to get the artifacts out of the country; and stating that they know where to look for buried pottery.


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