Antiquities looted from India and smuggled into the United States

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HONOLULU — An international investigation into antiquities looted from India and smuggled into the United States has taken authorities to the Honolulu Museum of Art.

The museum on Wednesday handed over seven rare artifacts that it acquired without realizing they were ill-gotten items. Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be taking the items back to New York and from there, eventually returning them to the government of India.

Customs agents say the items were taken from religious temples and ancient Buddhist sites, and then allegedly smuggled to the United States by an art dealer. The dealer was arrested in 2011 and is awaiting trial in India.

The investigation is dubbed “Operation Hidden Idol,” involving the recovery of thousands of pieces worth $150 million.

Celeb Jones of The Honolulu Museum of Art

Marc Thomas (Photo Above), chief preparator at the Honolulu Museum of Art, holds one of seven stolen artifacts that were on display in the museum’s collection, Tuesday, March 31, 2015 in Honolulu. An international investigation into antiquities looted from India and smuggled into the United States has taken authorities to the Honolulu Museum of Art, which handed over the rare artifacts that it acquired without museum officials realizing they were ill-gotten items. Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are taking the items back to New York and from there, eventually returning them to the government of India. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

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