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Sunken Treasure: the treasure of the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes lands in Spain

Brought to the surface by Odyssey Marine Exploration of Florida in 2007, the 17 tons of treasure ended their 200 year journey by landing back in Spain to the relief of officials in Madrid.

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This image showing the retrieval of sunken cargo is taken from a Spanish television news cast on the legal battles over the contents of the galleon christened the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. (YouTube)

Sighs of relief were heard in Spain late Friday as military cargo planes bearing a half billion dollars worth of sunken treasure arrived at Torrejon de Ardoz military air base before the 17 tons of cargo were spirited away to an undisclosed location, according to The Associated Press.

The arrival appeared to put to rest a five-year drama in which the Spanish government succeeded in court cases to wrest the treasure from a Florida shipwreck diving company which had salvaged the treasure, comprising 594,000 gold and silver coins, off the coast of Portugal in 2007.

More from GlobalPost: Sunken treasure: Spanish booty flies home after five-year legal battle

The treasure was retrieved from the wreck of what was believed to be the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, which was sunk by the British navy in 1804.

This Spanish television news cast shows images of the sunken treasure and reports efforts by the Spanish government to document its claim to the ship and its contents in US courts, which have consistently sided against the Tampa shipwreck diving company Odyssey Marine Exploration. The company claimed salvage rights over the treasure after hauling it back to Florida.

The Peruvian government, which filed a last-ditch legal motion last week to prevent the transfer of the treasure, issued a statement yesterday reiterating past claims that the precious metals were of Peruvian origin and therefore Peruvian property, according to the AP.

"The coins were made from raw material obtained from mines that are currently on Peruvian soil and were struck at the Lima mint," the news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as saying.

More from GlobalPost: Peru makes last-minute claim to Spanish booty of the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes

According to the AP, a detail of 30 soldiers from Spain’s paramilitary Civil Guard protected the treasure upon its landing. The news agency cited Spanish state broadcaster RTVE as saying that the coins, cannon balls and other metal fragments would be taken to a secret location.

The agency quoted Civil Guard spokesman Miguel Tobias as saying a sigh of relief had been breathed all around.

"There were some storms on the way over," said he was quotd as saying, explaining that the two Hercules C-130 transports had arrivd late at Torrejon de Ardoz military air base late.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/120225/sunken-treasure-the-treasure-the-nuestra-senora-de-las-mer