Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has made it his personal mission to raid Egypt's tomb raiders and return stolen artifacts to their rightful owners-the Egyptian people. His top priority is to retrieve items plundered after the 1970 UNESCO decree that banned trade in important cultural artifacts. Ironically, Egypt itself was not supportive of protecting its treasures until recent years: it wasn't until 1983 that the county passed a law decreeing that all new archaeological finds were government property. Hawass leverages his authority through publicity that reaches around the world. He set up an investigative team to search out stolen artifacts in museum catalogs and auction listings. He and his staff have made it clear to museums and traders that they are prepared to make every effort to reclaim illicitly gained antiquities, including suing uncooperative organizations and posing their names on the Internet.He is also trying to stamp out illegal trade at its source-Egypt. Authorities have raided the storerooms of Egyptian dealers, seizing artifacts discovered after the 1983 heritage-protection law was passed. Archaeologists from other countries are lending a hand. A French Egyptologist, for example, recognized an item in Christie’s New York auction catalog as being a granite relief from the Temple of Isis on the Nile Delta, plundered just eight years earlier, and informed Hawass. When Hawass informed Christie's, they immediately pulled the item from the catalog and returned it to Egypt. Hawass believes foreign museums should be allowed to keep most items that left Egypt before it obtained independence in 1952, but he makes it clear that stolen masterpieces are exceptions. Though the famous limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti was unearthed in 1911 and has stood in a Berlin museum since 1924. Hawass dreams about bringing her back to Egypt, which he feels she belongs. “Then I can retire,” he says, wistfully.