Thursday, November 18, 2010

Italian police bust archaeology looters

Italian police bust archaeology looters
18 November 2010 | 16:28 | FOCUS News Agency
Home / European Union
Rome. Italian art theft investigators on Thursday announced they have busted a gang that looted ancient artifacts from archaeological sites in southern Italy to sell in Europe and the United States, AFP reports.
"The thieves had been secretly digging up the artifacts with the help of metal detectors, and then trafficking the stolen goods to buyers in Italy and abroad," said Raffaele Giovinazzo, head of Calabria's heritage police squad.
The haul included over 4,000 ancient Roman and Byzantine silver and bronze coins, as well as 600 other artifacts like ceramic vases, broaches and necklaces of an estimated worth of one million euros (1.4 million dollars).
"Obviously the artefacts also have great historical value," Giovinazzo said.
The loot came mainly from the Torre Mordillo archaeological site, an ancient necropolis surrounded by scrub land in the Calabria region.
Sixteen arrest warrants have been issued after police became suspicious of the quantity of ancient artifacts put up for sale through online auctions.
"There were several foreign buyers from the US and the European Union," said Giovinazzo.
"The investigators also worked closely with squads from Venice, Turin and Florence. Some of the stolen goods were being were being trafficked to the north of the country: that's where the money is in Italy," he said.

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