Arte­fact gang busted

Sus­pects ac­cused of pil­lag­ing sites and forg­ing coins

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - NEWS - By Dave Jones djones@cb­

BUL­GAR­IAN gang­sters who were steal­ing his­tor­i­cal arte­facts from sites in their home coun­try and Spain have been ar­rested in Ali­cante prov­ince, Mur­cia, Va­len­cia, Se­govia and Zaragoza.

A spokesman for the Guardia Civil said that 30,000 pieces have been re­cov­ered in raids on 17 prop­er­ties in which 13 peo­ple were ar­rested.

The ob­jects in­cluded 20,000 coins, rings, Greek and Ro­man pots, broaches, fig­urines and an­cient weapons such as lances and ar­row tips – along with €180,000 in cash.

He ex­plained that the thieves would sell the ob­jects over the in­ter­net us­ing ‘well­known sites which work on a bid­ding sys­tem, al­low­ing them to in­crease the amounts they gained from the sales’.

Many of the pieces they sold had been fab­ri­cated us­ing spe­cial tech­niques to age the ma­te­ri­als.

Dur­ing raids the of­fi­cers seized 36 moulds to make false coins, along with metal de­tec­tors used to find gen­uine items.

The op­er­a­tion started in Spain when Bul­gar­ian po­lice asked for help in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

The spokesman said that by bring­ing down the gang it not only stopped ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites from be­ing looted, but also pre­vented peo­ple be­ing conned on in­ter­net sites.

Five of the sus­pects ar­rested in Spain were re­manded in cus­tody. They have been charged with be­long­ing to a crim­i­nal gang, smug­gling, fraud, money laun­der­ing, forg­ing doc­u­ments and crimes against her­itage.

An enor­mous num­ber of arte­facts were re­cov­ered

In­tri­cate fig­urines and coins were among the hoard

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