Peru’s heritage at risk from organized crime

Police officials reported three thefts of religious and cultural heritage yesterday. In Huancayo an ancient bronze church bell was removed from its belfry over night, probably for sale as scrap metal, in the fourth church theft reported in the Mantaro Valley so far this year.

The Mantaro is a popular destination for Peruvian tourists, as the many small communities that exist in this unusually fertile mountain valley present an example of colonial architecture and traditional Andean culture within just a few hours of Lima.

The newly reinstated passenger service on the Lima-Huancayo train route passes through the region.

In the same night, the San Francisco church in Cajamarca was robbed of a number of priceless silver artifacts, after thieves broke in using a crowbar; and, also in Cajamarca, police yesterday recovered a number of ancient mummies, ceramics, textiles and other archeological finds. The criminals dropped the items on a road as they made their escape.

Cajamarca, as the city where conquistador Francisco Pizarro murdered Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, is a key destination for tourists in Peru.

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