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Greek treasure hunters have been looking for buyers of antiques in Bulgaria, Germany, Sweeden and in the UK

05 March 2012 / 18:03:38  GRReporter
4292 reads

Victoria Mindova


Greek police detained 44 members of a criminal group trading with antique items. They have been searching for old valuables ​​of high archaeological value in 13 municipalities in order to sell them on the black market for antiquities in Europe. Income from the operations were large and the group had been active for years. During the operation, the police seized over eight thousand ancient coins, dating from the sixth century BC to the Byzantine period, and many other valuable artifacts, including ancient Byzantine icons with a size of 37x25 and 14x11cm, jewelry, gold figurines, small bronze statuettes, copper beads and rosaries made of clay beads with gold plating.

In addition to the antiques 47 cellphones, 19 metal detectors, three military rifles, one shotgun, three automatic pistols, seven revolvers and a flare gun were also seized. Police found documents where all the artifacts were listed as well as over eight thousand euro in cash and sixty-nine BGN. Eight blank fake driving licenses from Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark were also found as well as small quantities of drugs without specifying its substance.

The leader of the group of treasure hunters was a 66-year-old retiree who lives in the area of ​​Thessaloniki. He makes frequent trips to Bulgaria, Germany, Sweden and England. He either transported the objects across the border by himself or they were sent abroad with a courier service in special envelopes. In this case, the coins were sent in small quantities so as not to arouse the suspicion of Customs officers.

GRReporter contacted the police press office in Athens to find out more details about the case and whether the Greek treasure hunters have bought antiques from their Bulgarian "colleagues". "The leader of the organization had not only traveled to Bulgaria, but also to other countries. Evidence so far shows that his travels are mainly related to the sale, rather than the purchase of antiques, but the investigation continues". This is what the police spokesman Anastasios Kokkalakis said for GRReporter and he stressed that Greek authorities will cooperate with police in the countries involved to unravel the case. He neither denied nor confirmed that it was possible that the Greek clandestine dealer of antiquities purchased valuables from Bulgaria and stated that currently the Ministry of Culture has undertaken the task to establish the origin of all confiscated antiquities.

Besides the 66-years-old head of the gang, police seized 43 more people who are aged between 25 and 74 years. Among them there are employees in private companies, freelancers and retirees. Treasure hunters had been searching for antiques and coins mostly in the areas of Greek Macedonia, Thessaly and Central Greece and more precisely around Halkidiki, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Imathia, Pieria, Serres, Kavala, Drama, Karditsa, Triana, Larissa and Fthiotida.


Tags: Criminal news treasure hunters Greece black market
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