" --IANS/EFE"
Bogota, Sep 2 (IANS/EFE) Spain has returned to Colombia 691 indigenous artefacts seized in a police operation 11 years ago.

The items - from different epochs, cultures and regions, include objects with organic and geometric designs, the Colombian Anthropology and History Institute (ICANH) said.

Most of the ceramic items are of huge cultural and archaeological value, and date back to 1400 BC.

The artefacts were made before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in South America in 16th century, ICANH said.

The process of repatriating this group of items began a year ago with the intervention of the foreign ministry, the culture ministry, the Colombian Embassy in Spain, ICANH and the Colombian Attorney General's Office.

Colombian authorities asked for the return of the pieces, which had been seized by Spanish police in 2003 after they were discovered during the course of Operation Florencia against drug and money laundering cartels.

For a decade, the collection was in the custody of the Museum of the Americas, a Spanish government entity that preserved the pieces under optimal conditions during that entire time until it notified the Colombian government of the collection's existence in 2011.

--IANS/EFE

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