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Smuggler of stolen Mexican artifacts sentenced in Big Bend National Park case

March 2nd, 2017 under Top Stories

SOUTH BREWSTER COUNTY – In April 2016, a Big Bend National Park ranger on patrol observed suspicious activity, which led National Park Service law enforcement officials to investigate Andrew Kowalik of Rockport, Texas, for smuggling Mexican archaeological artifacts into the United States through Big Bend National Park.

On February 13, Kowalik was sentenced to five years of supervised release/home confinement, according to a park news release.

“The preservation of cultural resources is important to understanding history,” said acting park Superintendent Vidal Davila. “National park rangers are committed to preserving these resources within our parks, as well as ensuring that these lands are not used for smuggling artifacts from other countries.”

Big Bend National Park will be working with partners in Mexico to repatriate the artifacts involved back to Mexico, Davila added.

Cases of stone tools, including more than 500 artifacts, were found to have been smuggled through the national park from Mexican protected lands. A cooperative investigation involving the National Park Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, resulted in the successful federal prosecution of Kowalik for a violation of smuggling goods into the United States.

As part of his sentencing, Kowalik is isn’t allowed to leave his home after the hours of darkness, travel from his home county, or visit any national park area. He was also fined $10,000 and ordered to forfeit all artifacts previously identified as having originated in Mexico.

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