March 10, 2000
Costa Rica rescues stolen archeological treasures

                   SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) -- Costa Rican police confiscated 43
                   pre-Columbian artifacts dated to 300 B.C. that were to be smuggled to
                   Europe, officials said Friday.

                   Some of the pieces, including stone sculptures and ceramics, Melania Ortiz,
                   director of the National Museum, told reporters. They could sell for more than
                   $1 million on the European black market, she said.

                   "It's an offense to the historical memory of Costa Rica that one would try to
                   take out of the country these archaeological pieces that are part of our
                   heritage," she said.

                   Police charged one Costa Rican with illegal trafficking of archaeological
                   objects and falsifying documents.

                   The suspect apparently belonged to a band of smugglers shipping artifacts to
                   Europe under the guise of exporting handicrafts, a police spokesman said.

                    Copyright 2000 Reuters.