They arrested an American couple who had 722 Mayan relics in a house in Guatemala

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There is a suspicion that they are part of a gang of illicit trafficking in cultural property

They arrested an American couple who had 722 Mayan relics in a house in Guatemala

The Prosecutor's Office seized the 722 Mayan relics to be examined and to serve as evidence in the investigation (National Civil Police of Guatemala)

The Guatemalan Public Ministry located this Thursday a variety of 722 Mayan archaeological piecesat the residence of an American couple who were arrested on November 14 and are under investigation.

Hundreds of Mayan archaeological pieces made of jade and basalt of different sizes were located by the Prosecutor for Crimes against Cultural Heritage, in an operation at the home of Stephanie Jolluck and Giorgio Rossilli, two Americans who live in the City of Antigua Guatemala.

They arrested an American couple who had 722 Mayan relics in a house in Guatemala

Guided by their lawyer Juan Pablo Aris Bravo, on the right, Stephanie Allison Jolluck and Giorgio Salvador Rossilli leave a courthouse in Antigua, Guatemala (AP/Santiago Billy)

The Prosecutor's Office seized the 722 Mayan relics to be examined and used as evidence in the investigation being carried out against Jolluck and Rossilli.

Both Americans were detained by the Guatemalan police last Sunday , when they were trying to move 166 archaeological pieces in their car.

Authorities have confirmed the authenticity of 90% of the pieces seized from Americans the first time they they were arrested.

They arrested an American couple who had 722 Mayan relics in a house in Guatemala

According to the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala, 90% of those 166 pieces seized on Sunday they are originals and the remaining 10% are replicas (National Civil Police of Guatemala)

In addition, Jolluck had been detained a few days earlier, when she tried to leave Guatemala through La Aurora International Airport with several Mayan handicrafts in her luggage.

There is a suspicion that the Americans are part of a gang of illicit trafficking in cultural property, a point that must be verified, a source from the Prosecutor's Office explained to the news agency EFE.

An American couple who had 722 Mayan relics in a house in Guatemala was arrested

Rossilli said that when they arrested him with Jolluck in the vehicle they were going to return the objects to their owner (National Civil Police of Guatemala)

During the operation, computers, books, compact discs and two cell phones were also seized and will be analyzed by experts.

Jolluck , 49, is a photographer and on his social networks he shares photographs of daily life in the City of Antigua Guatemala, its landscapes and its indigenous inhabitants.

They arrested an American couple who had 722 Mayan relics in a house in Guatemala

Franklin Contreras, a renowned architect from Antigua, claimed to be the owner of some of the pieces held by Rossilli (Guatemala National Civil Police)

Rossilli's knowledge of Mayan culture made the prosecutor in the Jorge case doubt Alberto de León on the justification that the American presented during his hearing. “In his statement before the judge, (Rossilli) said that because he was a foreigner he did not know or could not distinguish between one piece and another, that he saw them in the market and did not imagine that they were ancient archaeological pieces” , said the prosecutor.

The couple did not go to prison, they paid a fine of $6,500 each and cannot leave the country. The Prosecutor's Office has three months to provide more evidence before the court and to determine if they should face trial or not.

In Guatemala, trafficking in archaeological pieces is considered a crime since they are registered as cultural heritage of the nation.

(With information from EFE and AP)

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