Maya Ceramic Vessels Abandoned in a Florida Airport in 1983

Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024

Maya ceramic vase that is painted with male figures sitting crosslegged holding a basket.

Fifty-five Maya-style vessels that were flown into the USA on a private plane and that no one claimed.

In April 1983 seven cartons arrived at Opa-Locka Airport, a small airport located 19 km from downtown Miami, aboard a small plane (Finefrock 1988). The US Customs Service later identified the shipper of the ceramics as “John L. Jacquet” and the consignee as “Fashion Towel Import Corp.” located in Miami (Finefrock 1988). No one came to the airport to claim the cargo. When the cartons were opened they were found to contain 55 Maya-style ceramic vessels.

The ceramic vessels were held by the US Customs until 1987 when a federal court awarded the pieces to Guatemala (Finefrock 1988). The vessels were returned to Guatemala in May 1988.

In contemporary reporting, representatives for the US Customs indicated that they had no information about the origin of the private plane that carried the artefacts, nor about the shipper’s intent (Finefrock 1988). Their representative was quoted as saying “In these situations it is real difficult to determine whether it is a smuggling operation or not” (William J. Luebkert quoted in Finefrock 1988).

Image: CC 0; This Maya vase is illustrative. It is not one that was left in Florida.

Works Cited

Finefrock, Don (1988) Customs Service Returns Artifacts to Guatemala. UPI. 17 May 1988. Accessed on 29 August 2023.