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March 12, 2018
Global operation targeting trafficking of cultural goods proves effective
In the course of a global operation targeting the trafficking of cultural artefacts, more than 41,000 objects including coins, furniture, paintings, musical instruments, archaeological pieces and sculptures have been seized.
The seizures were made during the first joint customs and police operation codenamed Athena organized by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL, and the Europe-focused Operation Pandora II coordinated by the Spanish Guardia Civil and Europol.
Tens of thousands of inspections were carried out at airports and border crossing points across 81 countries during the operations which ran from October to December 2017.
With the Internet becoming an important part of the chain in the illicit trade of cultural goods, law enforcement officers also monitored online market places and sales sites.
The WCO reports the following operational highlights:
Searches of a businessman's two homes and two commercial properties by Greek Police resulted in the recovery of 41 archaeological objects which did not have the necessary license.
Brazilian Customs seized a marble head hidden in a passenger's suitcase. Verification of the piece's provenance is ongoing.
A painting by Nicolas de Stael worth approximately EUR 500,000 was intercepted by French Customs at the Gare du Nord in Paris as it was being smuggled to London.
Argentinean Federal Police recovered the shell of a Glyptodon, an extinct mammal. The shell, estimated to be more than one million years old, was on sale for USD 150,000.
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