On Tuesday, Germany returned to Mexico two pre-Hispanic pieces recovered from the so-called Patterson collection encompassing at least 691 Aztec , Mayan , and Olmec artifacts and which was seized for several years in Munich.
After a long trial, Mexico managed to recover two authentic Olmec heads illegally removed from a major archeological site known as El Manatí , located in Coatzacoalcos , Veracruz , near Hidalgotitlán and San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán .
Since last September, the pieces were sheltered in the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection in Munich where restorers examined the pieces and determined they were not subjected to any restoration treatment.
is an antiquities dealer specialized in Pre-Columbian artifacts who has been investigated multiple times by the FBI , Interpol and the authorities in Spain , Peru , Mexico , and Germany .
In 2015 , Patterson was sentenced in Munich for illegal trafficking of archaeological items and fraud for selling a fake Olmec head. He was sentenced to probation for three years.
However back in 2008 , EL UNIVERSAL documented the case and determined that the artifacts could not have left the country legally since El Manatí began to be explored in 1987 , when the Federal Law on Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Monuments and Areas was in force.
At the time of the discovery, there were plenty looting incidents, shortly before researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History ( INAH ) arrived at El Manatí.
In 1992 , Leonardo Patterson showcased two Olmec busts at a large exhibition in Galicia and shortly after his collection was seized by Germany .
From then on, Mexico has initiated various efforts to recover the 691 pieces of Mexican origin that were identified as authentic in the Patterson collection.