In what is being described as a 'hard blow against the illegal trafficking of cultural goods' Europol, the European Law Enforcement Agency, announced in a press release that on July 4th, that more than 250 police officers detained 23 suspects and seized EUR 40 million worth of looted archaeological items.
The joint operation was initiated four years ago by a special unit of the Italian Carabinieri and was supported by officers from the Spanish Guarda, British Metropolitan Police and German Police. Members of the criminal gang are alleged to have illegally excavated and trafficked cultural relics to be sold at auction houses in Germany.
The scale of the looting and destruction of ancient historic sites in Europe and the Middle East is astonishing, as criminal networks turn to this lucrative source of income to finance their terrorist and criminal activities. Perhaps most shocking are the before and after images showing the scale of the looting in parts of Iraq and Syria, where the after aerial photos show historic sites, such as Apamea, pockmarked by holes where looters have roughly excavated whatever ancient relics they can find to sell.
In a case of life imitating art, my soon to be released novel, The Carlswick Mythology, finds Stephanie and James caught up in the trafficking of artefacts from the conflict zone of Syria to willing buyers in Europe...