WASHINGTON  - The United States returned Wednesday dozens of ancient artefacts that had been smuggled out of Egypt by an international criminal network, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said. The items - including a Greco-Roman style Egyptian sarcophagus discovered in a Brooklyn garage in 2009 - were handed back to the Egyptian government at a ceremony in Washington. “To think that some of these treasured artefacts were recovered from garages, exposed to the elements, is unimaginable,” said ICE director Sarah Saldana in a statement. The discovery of the nesting sarcophagus generated leads that resulted in the 2010 seizure of more smuggled Egyptian items, including a funerary boat model and hundreds of ancient coins, ICE said. The items have been linked to a global crime network that is the subject of a five-year-old ICE effort known as Operation Mummy’s Curse. So far, the effort has secured four indictments, two convictions, 19 search warrants and 16 seizures totalling approximately $3 million, ICE said. “The ongoing investigation has identified a criminal network of smugglers, importers, money launderers, restorers and purchasers who used illegal methods to avoid detection as these items entered the United States,” ICE said.