An international criminal organization has been wound up in a large-scale European police action, Europol reports on Monday. The gang traded in looted Italian archaeological objects.
23 people have been arrested and around 10,000 artifacts have been seized. A total of eighty house searches were made. According to Europol, the criminals could go on for years and cause so much damage to the Italian cultural heritage.
The investigation, called Operation Achei, started in 2017 and was aimed against looting of archaeological sites in Calabria. In the southern Italian region you can find a lot of cultural heritage from the Greek and Roman period.
The research shows that "a well-organized criminal organization" coordinated the excavations. The gang consisted of looters and intermediaries, operating from various European cities including Dijon, Munich, London and Vrsac. Two Calabrians, who lived in the province of Crotone, were in charge of the organization.
Operation Achei was led by the Italian Carabinieri, an Italian police unit that deals with the protection of cultural heritage. The investigation was supported by the European police organization Europol and the EU agency Eurojust.
France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Serbia were also involved in the operation. A total of 350 European police officers worked on the case.
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