Successful joint investigation on cultural heritage objects

As a result of the operational meetings supported by SELEC, as well as the exchanged information and the cooperation facilitated in the framework of SELEC, it was finalized joint investigation code-named “ANKH” that targeted dismantling an organized crime group dealing with illegal activities regarding cultural heritage items.

Valuable information was exchanged during the operational meetings and joint actions were planned between the law enforcement officers of Bulgaria, Greece and North Macedonia.

During the investigation, which lasted two years, three specialized police operations were conducted on the territory of Bulgaria.

The first specialized police operation was in connection with operational information received by police officers of the Hellenic Republic that a Bulgarian citizen who is illegally involved in the trafficking of cultural values ​​is offering for sale on Greek auction sites religious objects and coins. The individual was identified, detained and his address was searched. As a result, were seized a medieval cross from the 17th century / worth 400 euros / as well as 16 ancient coins.

After exchanging information with the Greek police authorities, two other members of the criminal group under investigation were detained. During the house searches, 445 objects having the characteristics of movable cultural property and around 160 coins were found and seized.

Then, following the information exchange with the police authorities from North Macedonia, in March 2024, a third large-scale specialized police operation was conducted on the territory of Bulgaria, 14 addresses being searched, 11 persons were detained and 550 objects having characteristics of movable cultural property were found and seized (helmets, antique gold jewelry, fibulae, coins, pottery, marble plates, medieval bracelets, a/o).

An illegally owned firearm, ammunition of different calibers, metal detectors, false documents and almost 10,000 euro were also found and seized.

The criminal proceedings are ongoing.