NEW YORK - A set of 2,000-year-old sarcophagi and other Egyptian antiquities were smuggled into the United States by a black-market artifacts ring and recovered by US law enforcement agents, officials said on Thursday.
Charges unsealed in Brooklyn federal court in New York accused four men of conspiring to smuggle the Egyptian artifacts in what one US official described as a groundbreaking case against trafficking in cultural property.
The men charged -- Mousa Khouli, Salem Alshdaifat, Joseph Lewis and Ayman Ramadan -- were accused of evading customs officers by misrepresenting the nature of their cargo during border inspections. They also were charged with plotting to launder money.
All the suspects live in the United States, except Ramadan, a Jordanian citizen living in the United Arab Emirates.