On 20 of February 2017, the Bulgarian and Turkish law enforcement institutions successfully finalized two actions related to an operation codenamed PEKOM targeting dismantling an organized criminal group dealing with cultural heritage objects’ smuggling.
After an extensive exchange of information and several operational meetings supported by SELEC, the Bulgarian and Turkish authorities agreed to proceed by supervising the criminal activities of the organized criminal group consisting in Bulgarian and Turkish citizens, using special investigative methods and maintaining open communication regarding the routes and actions of the suspects.
During the first action that took place at the end of December 2016, two members of the organized criminal group were arrested while attempting to cross the Bulgarian/Turkish border with 170 artifacts, ancient byzantine coins, several roman denarius’s, byzantine solidus, roman golden rings, statues, a/o.
As a follow up, in a second action of the same operation, the Turkish authorities managed to apprehend in Istanbul two Turkish citizens smuggling a number of 778 pieces of artifacts, ancient byzantine coins, several roman denarius’s, byzantine solidus, roman golden rings, a/o.
The total value of the seized items is approximately 700.000 Euro.
The operation is still ongoing, further results being expected.