Artefact gang busted
Suspects accused of pillaging sites and forging coins
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