Archaeology smuggler caught with 500 stolen artifacts at Big Bend

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Archaeology smuggler fined after stealing 500 artifacts from Mexico and bringing them into the U.S. (Courtesy_ National Parks Service)_426961

BIG BEND, Texas (KXAN) — A man has been sentenced to home confinement after he was found smuggling more than 500 artifacts from protected lands in Mexico to the Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Andrew Kowalik, from Rockport, Texas, was discovered by a National Park Ranger in April 2016 with hundreds of archaeological artifacts, including cases of stone tools. The National Park Service, Homeland Security Investigators, and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service joined together to prosecute Kowalik for illegally smuggling the artifacts into the United States.

On Feb. 13, Kowalik was sentenced to spend the next five years in home confinement with supervised releases during the day. He will be banned from leaving the country or entering any national park during that time. He was also fined $10,000 and ordered to hand over all of the artifacts stolen from Mexico.

“The preservation of cultural resources is important to understanding history,” says Acting Parks Superintendent Vidal Davila. “National Park Rangers are committed to preserving these resources within our parks, as well as ensuring that these lands are not used for smuggling artifacts from other countries.”

Officials in Mexico are working with Big Bend National Park to return the artifacts home.

Archaeology smuggler fined after stealing 500 artifacts from Mexico and bringing them into the U.S. (Courtesy: National Parks Service)

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