Further results of the joint investigation PEKOM in the field of cultural heritage smuggling

Joint investigation PEKOM, conducted by the Bulgarian and Turkish authorities, as mentioned in the post from February 2017, targeted dismantling an organized criminal group dealing with cultural heritage objects’ smuggling.

The joint investigation was initiated based on the intensive exchange of information done through the SELEC Channel and organization of several operational meetings supported by SELEC, during which the Bulgarian and Turkish law enforcement officers and prosecutors met in order to coordinate and decide on the proceedings.

The operation started with two suspects being arrested in France while trying to sell artifacts in an auction house. Within the operation, two seizures were made in Republic of Turkey with more than 800 artifacts and several arrests. Following these seizures, in both countries further searches were performed, during which more than 1400 historical and archeological artifacts were found in Republic of Bulgaria and 1600 in Republic of Turkey.  

In the last phase of the operation, in Republic of Bulgaria, on 26 May 2017, around 1500 artifacts were seized and 29 suspects have been detained, including the main organizer.

As an official estimation was not yet performed, from experts’ evaluation the value of the smuggled objects, on the black market, consist in millions of Euro.