Virtual Workshop Trains U.S. Law Enforcement to Combat Trafficking in Ancient Coins

March 11, 2021

The trafficking of stolen, looted, or forged art, antiquities, and other cultural objects benefits criminal organizations and terrorist groups, erodes the legal art market, and harms our relationships with foreign partners and allies. To combat trafficking, U.S. law enforcement personnel received specialized training on trends in illicit trade.

In March 2021, the U.S. Department of State’s Cultural Antiquities Task Force (CATF) held a virtual training workshop for federal law enforcement to enhance their knowledge about ancient and historic coins. The training brought together nearly 100 participants from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Customs and Border Protection, FBI, the State Department, the Smithsonian Institution, international partners, and representatives from U.S. universities, museums, and coin associations. Federal investigators and customs officers learned how to identify potentially looted or stolen coins, how to work with coin experts, and how to properly photograph and handle coins.

This training was the first in a series of virtual anti-trafficking workshops supported by the CATF and organized by the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute, HSI, and FBI. The workshops provided U.S. law enforcement with knowledge and capabilities to help identify, interdict, investigate, and prosecute activities related to some of the most-trafficked categories of cultural property.

This workshop supplemented the CATF’s annual training program that, in partnership with HSI and Smithsonian, has now trained over 360 law enforcement personnel since 2009. Collectively, members of the CATF have successfully repatriated more than 20,000 pieces of cultural property to more than 45 countries since 2004.

About the Cultural Antiquities Task Force

Created by the State Department in 2004 at the direction of Congress, the CATF comprises federal agencies that share a common mission to combat antiquities trafficking in the United States and abroad. Since its creation, the CATF has supported more than 95 domestic and international cultural property training programs. CATF is managed by the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center.