Europe

Greek police break gang that sold thousands of antiquities

Migrants watch a large fire as it burns inside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, late Monday, Sept. 19. 2016. Greek police say a large fire has swept through a big camp for refugees and other migrants on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos, forcing its evacuation. None of the more than 4,000 people in the Moria camp was reported injured in Monday's blaze, which damaged tents and prefabricated housing units. (AP Photo/Michael Schwarz)

Migrants watch a large fire as it burns inside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, late Monday, Sept. 19. 2016. Greek police say a large fire has swept through a big camp for refugees and other migrants on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos, forcing its evacuation. None of the more than 4,000 people in the Moria camp was reported injured in Monday’s blaze, which damaged tents and prefabricated housing units. (AP Photo/Michael Schwarz)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police say they have broken a major gang that allegedly exported thousands of illegally-excavated antiquities for sale through conniving European auction houses or directly to private buyers.

A spokesman for the southern Patras police directorate, which headed the nationwide 14-month investigation, says more than 50 people were involved in the criminal organization. Twenty-six suspects have been arrested so far, ranging from the alleged leadership to people believed to have been carrying out the illegal, nighttime excavations.

Police said Wednesday that more than 2,000 artefacts, mostly coins from as early as the 6th century B.C., have been confiscated.

The antiquities were mostly sold through online auctions by houses based in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Britain, which police said were aware of their illegal provenance and sometimes helped finance the gang.

 

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