Home Community Αncient Greek coins seized at O’Hare Airport returned to Greece  

Αncient Greek coins seized at O’Hare Airport returned to Greece  

CHICAGO, IL – Greek News USA

Twenty-one Ancient Greek coins were turned over to the Greek Consul General in Chicago, Emmanuel Koubarakis, during a December 21 ceremony at the Homeland Security Investigations office in Lombard, IL. They will be headed to Athens in a few days.

The tiny coins that date back to the time before Christ [at least one dates to around 500 B.C.] were likely stolen or looted from Greece years ago and only recently were discovered by Customs and Border Patrol agents at the DHL cargo facility out at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. They were coming in two separate packages from Austria.  The coins had been bought in an auction.

Chicago HSI Office

According to the HSI, since 2007, more than 20,000 antiquities and art pieces have been seized in the United States and repatriated back to more than 40 countries.  

“This is a very big deal. This is the largest repatriation of Greek coins in recent history for Homeland Security Investigations”, said Sean Fitzgerald, Director of Homeland Security Investigations, during Wednesday’s ceremony.  

He noted that the Chicago Homeland Security office has a unit dedicated to hunting down lost and stolen antiquities. It works with the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center and the Smithsonian Institution to train agents, as well as the FBI, Customs officers and prosecutors.

HSI / Sean Fitzgerald, Director of Homeland Security Investigations

“These coins are very important to our cultural heritage”, said Emmanuel Koubarakis, Consul General of the Hellenic Republic in Chicago, thanking HSI for their excellent cooperation and for organizing this ceremony.

“On behalf of the Hellenic Republic, I would like to express my appreciation and commend the competent American authorities for their diligence and dedication in tracking illicit antiquities. I would like to thank the United States for the partnership and the repatriation of 21 coins to the source country, Greece. These items are important to our cultural heritage”, Consul General Koubarakis noted.

The Greek Consul General said the coins are very rare and very valuable and will likely wind up in a museum when they land back home.