The exact date on which it occurred is not known, but between 2010 and 2017 a letter written by Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador who led the expedition that began the conquest of Mexico at the beginning of the 16th century, was stolen from the General Archive of Mexico. . This Monday afternoon, the Manhattan County Prosecutor's Office returned it to the Mexican Consulate in New York after the document was found in an auction house in the city.
The letter was returned to Consul Jorge Islas López, in a ceremony held at the diplomatic headquarters by the chief adviser to the Manhattan Prosecutor's Office, Jordan Stockdale. The Mexican consulate, which thanked the gesture in a statement, says it is an "incalculable value" piece that had been kept along with other colonial records but was cut from its original binding and illegally exported to the United States.
He provided more details, such as that it was written by the Spaniard in 1539 and that it was addressed to Pedro de Castilleja, administrator of the Cortés mines. In his lines you can read how he gives instructions to prohibit access to the mines to any slave or miner who worked for Andrés de Barrios, another Spanish conquistador.
The letter could be recovered after a successful joint operation by the Antiquities Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan Prosecutor's Office and the US Department of Homeland Security, at the request of the consulate in New York. The document will soon be repatriated to Mexico.
Last year, the Manhattan Prosecutor's Office also returned to that country a block of sixteen historical documents related to Cortés, considered documentary heritage of Mexico and which were identified in auction houses in New York.