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Global operation recovers 19,000 stolen antiquities

Madrid: More than 19,000 archaeological artefacts have been recovered and 101 people have been arrested during a global police investigation into the illegal trade in antiquities, Interpol has announced.

The co-ordinated crackdown in 103 countries recovered works stolen from museums and archaeological sites as well as archaeological goods and artwork looted from war-stricken countries.

A unique Tumaco gold mask is among more than 19,000 archaeological artefacts and other artworks recovered as part of a global operation spanning 103 countries.

A unique Tumaco gold mask is among more than 19,000 archaeological artefacts and other artworks recovered as part of a global operation spanning 103 countries.Credit:Interpol

“Organised crime has many faces. The trafficking of cultural goods is one of them. It is not a glamorous business run by flamboyant gentlemen forgers, but by international criminal networks,” said Catherine de Bolle, the executive director of Europol which took part in Operation Athena II with Interpol and the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

“You cannot look at it separately from combating trafficking in drugs and weapons,” she said.

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