Monday, 27 July 2015

Egyptian Artefact Smuggling and Transnational Organized Crime

Antiquities dealers buying ancient Egyptian artefacts without ascertaining that they are of legal origins are putting money into the pockets of participants of transnational organized crime warned Interpol: 'Egyptian authorities seize guns, drugs and stolen art in operation targeting illicit goods', 13th July 2015)
A 60-day operation conducted across Egypt targeting illicit and fake goods has resulted in the seizure of genuine guns, drugs and stolen works of art. More than 233 weapons, including shot guns, machine guns and rifles, 30 kg of heroin, nearly five kg of opium and almost three kg of cocaine, in addition to 23 pieces of elephant ivory weighing 43 kg were among the illegal goods seized during Operation Monitor Eye. At Damietta port, inside a 40-feet container allegedly containing wooden furniture to be shipped to the US, Egyptian authorities discovered 135 porcelain and wooden artefacts from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty which had been stolen from museums and a warehouse belonging to the Ministry of Culture. The operation, supported by INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit, was run by the Ministry of the Interior and saw interventions at land, air and sea ports, markets, shops and warehouses across the country between 1 May and 30 June. [...] INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services Tim Morris said the range of items seized clearly demonstrated the links between various types of crime, requiring a coordinated and cross-sector approach. “Criminals will take advantage of any and every opportunity open to them, whether this is through smuggling stolen works of art or guns or drugs, or trafficking in fake and illicit goods [...] which generate millions in profits for the organized crime networks behind them,” said Mr Morris.
Operation Monitor Eye followed a three-day training course in April and demonstrates the increased efforts across North Africa and the Middle East to identify and dismantle the transnational organized criminal networks behind illicit markets. And still thousands of collectors refuse to help clean up the antiquities market.

Vignette: Damietta

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