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Mexico celebrates return of religious piece by U.S. authorities after it was stolen 20 years earlier

Mexico City, Mexico — Mexican dignitaries were at the National Library of Anthropology and History Wednesday during the official return of a piece that was stolen 20 years earlier.

The religions piece was stolen from the Temple of Santiago Apóstol in the Mexican state of Morelos in 2002. After an investigation was launched, it was learned that the statute was in the possession of an American collector in Texas.

But when he died, he left his collection to a museum, which included the stolen piece. Since the statute arrived without the proper papers to authenticate its possession, museum staff reported it to the FBI.

This week, the 1.1 meter tall statute, which represents San Antonio de Padua, was returned to Mexico after being stolen 20 years before. It arrived in the accompaniment of U.S. officials from Dallas, Texas.

In a statement, the government of Mexico said “after 20 years of searching and thanks to the collaboration between the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, through INAH, as well as the Attorney General’s Office (FGR), in collaboration with authorities from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the colonial polychrome sculpture was recovered and repatriated, which was illegally removed from Jiutepec, Morelos.”