Carabinieri take part in Pandora VI operation against illegal object trafficking

 ROME – The Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (TPC) participated for Italy in Pandora VI, the latest of a series of international operations coordinated by Interpol, Europol and World Customs Organization (WCO) to rescue illegally trafficked cultural objects and archaeological finds and arrest perpetrators, cultural sources said.

 The TPC, with the support of the local Carabinieri, carried out 128 checks in areas of archaeological and monumental interest, and verified 60 antiquarian shops, auction houses, galleries, restorers and transporters. It reported 20 people in a state of freedom, verified 1376 assets in the ‘Data bank of illegally stolen cultural assets,’ and seized 624 cultural assets coming to the value of 415,000 euros.

 In Florence, 79 archaeological finds of various kinds and ages from the Mediterranean area were seized, while 21 archaeological finds from the Roman period between the 1st century BC and the third century AD were sequestered in Pantelleria and Trezzano sul Naviglio, near Milan.

 Other confiscated objects included five handwritten documents from the registers of the Dioceses of Urbino and Fano in the early 20th Century in Pesaro, three nineteenth century oil paintings from Sassari in Sardinia, and nine cannons, a bell and a metal anchor dating from between the 15th and 16th centuries on Capo Rizzuto in Calabria.

  Particular attention was paid to monitoring the online markets, with a week of "cyberpatrol" organised by the Dutch National Police to identify suspicious sales.

 The TPC’s ‘Database of illegally stolen cultural assets’ is frequently used internationally as it is the most complete. The information made it possible to carry out an extensive control of the web (auction house sites, specialised and generic e-commerce pages, social media platforms) aimed at identifying cultural assets of suspicious origin, to be investigated during the operation.

 More than 170 investigations are still ongoing, following which further seizures and arrests are expected.