California Man Charged With Smuggling 2,000-Year-Old Mosaic That Was Looted From War-Torn Syria

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An undated image of an ancient mosaic found in a Palmdale man’s home. (Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office)

LOS ANGELES – A Palmdale resident was charged today with illegally importing a mosaic depicting the Roman god Hercules that is believed to have been made nearly two millennia ago.

Mohamad Yassin Alcharihi, 53, was named in an indictment that charges him with one count of entry of goods into the United States falsely classified as to quality and value.

This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles Public Safety group and the FBI’s Art and Antiquity Investigations group.

The indictment alleges that Alcharihi claimed he was importing a mosaic and other items valued at $2,199, when in fact he was importing an ancient mosaic worth more than that. The indictment also alleges that he misrepresented the quality of the mosaic and what the artwork depicted.

Alcharihi will receive a summons to appear for an arraignment in U.S. District Court for an arraignment that will likely take place next month.

The government is pursuing forfeiture of the mosaic, which was seized by FBI and HSI agents in 2016, in both the indictment and a 2018 asset forfeiture complaint.

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