Cyprus police participated in a crackdown on international art trafficking that recovered 11,049 stolen artefacts, including ancient coins and books and a marble bust believed to represent the niece of a Roman emperor, across 14 countries, Europol said on Thursday.
Sixty people were arrested in the raids last year, part of so-called ‘Operation Pandora’ launched by the European police force in 2016 and renewed annually since then.
Among the recovered artefacts were over 3,000 ancient coins, 77 ancient books stolen from the archives of a monastery, and a Roman marble bust of a woman believed to represent Salonia Matidia, niece of Trajan, Roman emperor from 98-117 A.D.
Spain led the latest reported Pandora crackdown with the support of Europol and Interpol, while Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and Bosnia took part.
According to Europol, this iteration of the annual Pandora operation consisted of an operational phase which ran between 13 to 24 September 2022 and which saw several thousands of checks being carried out at various airports, ports and border crossing points, as well as in auction houses, museums and private houses.
Two cyber patrol weeks were organised in the course of Pandora VII, in May and October respectively, with over 8,495 checks being conducted online and 4,017 stolen goods seized.
Some 130 investigations are still ongoing, as a result of which more seizures and arrests are anticipated.
(With information from Reuters)