An undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent cracked open the case last fall when he arranged the purchases of a dozen illegal Peruvian artifacts totaling $23,000, according to an amended complaint filed on March 25. The complaint explains that the purchases uncovered an alleged conspiracy:
Undercover telephone, email, and in-person discussions conducted concurrent to the purchase of artifacts further corroborates [Javier] Abanto-Sarmiento's and [Cesar] Guarderas' conspiracy in trafficking of Peruvian artifacts. Several discussions have resulted in declarations of the following: Guarderas stating Abanto-Sarmiento has access to over one hundred (100) pieces of pottery in Peru and is willing to ship them to the U.S.; Abanto-Sarmiento stating he bribes officials in Peru in order to get the artifacts out of Peru; Guarderas stating Abanto-Sarmiento knows where to look for pottery buried in the ground and that he acquires some of his pottery via this method; Guarderas stating Abanto-Sarmiento has a contact with the Institute of National Culture in Peru who provides Abanto-Sarmiento with authentic certifications stating all of his pottery are replicas; and Guarderas stating Abanto-Sarmiento uses these authentic certifications to illegally export genuine artwork out of Peru.
The second count alleges a violation of the National Stolen Property Act, and states that the defendants "did transport, transmit and transfer in interstate or foreign commerce any goods, wares, merchandise, securities or money, of the value of $5,000 or more, knowing the same to have been stolen, converted or taken by fraud, and did aid and abet therein, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314 and 2."
UPDATE January 10, 2014: The district court yesterday set a schedule in this case as follows: Pretrial Conference set for 1/26/2015. Jury Trial set for 2/9/2015. Pleadings due by 8/18/2014. Expert Discovery due by 10/9/2014. Fact Discovery due by 7/18/2014. Joinder of Parties due by 8/18/2014. In Limine Motions due by 12/15/2014. Dispositive Motions due by 10/14/2014. Pretrial Stipulation due by 12/29/2014.