More than 30,000 Antique Objects to Return to Bulgaria after Special Operation by Bulgarian and Spanish Authorities (Video)Archaeology | April 18, 2019, Thursday // 11:36| views
More than 30,000 illegally exported antiquities will be returned to Bulgaria after a joint operation of the Special Prosecutor's Office, the General Directorate for Combating Organised Crime, the General Directorate National Police and the Spanish police and judicial authorities, said the Special Prosecutor's Office.
On 23 October 2018, the Bulgarian and Spanish authorities supported by Europol and Eurojust, dismantled an organised crime group involved in illegal trafficking of antiques from Bulgaria to Spain for sale on the local black market.
The joint investigation has been carried out against 16 Bulgarian citizens, 8 of whom are currently remanded in custody in Torrent, Valencia.
The group had been in operation since January 2016, initially buying artefacts from looters and antiques dealers in Bulgaria, then subsequently organising their transportation to Spain. The goods were sold on eBay through fake profiles.
During the operation, a total of 30,600 artefacts (about 600 of them in Bulgaria) were found and seized – Greek and Roman ceramics, helmets, funeral urns, arrows, spears, coins, and 180,000 euro in cash.
According to the expert evaluations, these are authentic cultural goods from Bulgaria, which according to international agreements will be returned after the end of the trial against the group. If among the artefacts investigators find counterfeit goods sold to customers as originals, the group will also be charged with fraud.
The trial will take place in Spain. The evidence gathered in Bulgaria will be provided to the Spanish authorities and included in the pre-trial proceedings.