Sunday 22 January 2017

Operation Pandora: Multinational Investigation Leads to Arrests

Do you know where your local antiquities dealer has been getting his stock from? This article by Associated Press ('Spanish Police Announce Arrests in Cultural Artifacts Ring Jan 22, 2017) ought to get collectors wondering...
Spanish police say 75 people have been arrested and more than 3,500 stolen artifacts and pieces of art seized in a joint operation with 17 other European countries that dismantled an international cultural goods trafficking ring.
As part of this operation, Spanish police  have seized up to 500 archaeological objects alone in the southern Spanish town of Murcia, including 19 that were taken from the local archaeological museum in 2014 (see here for what looks like a related matter: Stolen Artefacts Seized in Spain ). But that was just part of this gang's field of operation:
The multi-national investigation started in October and the arrests were made the next month. It was led by investigators from Spain and Cyprus with support from 16 other countries, UNESCO and Interpol. Authorities allege the ring mostly dealt with objects looted from countries affected by wars. Spanish police did not say why they were announcing the operation two months after the arrests.
Guess. I suspect we'll be hearing more about this one. We learn from another article that this time, 49000 dealers and collectors were scrutinised ('Una macrooperación de la Europol permite recuperar más de 3.500 obras de arte'). These actions included the verification of suspicious advertisements on the Internet that allowed the seizure of more than 400 coins of illegal origin of different origins and periods and identification of sellers and buyers.

In fact Operation Pandora has been reported on this blog at least once before ('Arrests on Cyprus: Operation Pandora' PACHI Friday, 11 November 2016) dealing with arrests of collectors and dealers on Cyprus.  

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