14 June 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

More than 56400 Cultural Goods Seized in Operation Pandora V

Operation Pandora V, aimed at preventing the illegal trade of cultural goods, has been one of the most successful operations ever. Archaeological artifacts, furniture, coins, drawings, musical instruments, and sculptures are among these objects.

More than 56,400 cultural goods were rescued in the operation, which was carried out with the participation of 31 countries in total.

During the operating process, tens of thousands of checks and controls were performed in airports, ports, border crossing points, auction houses, libraries, and private residences. As a result, over 300 inquiries were launched, and 67 people were arrested.

This operation was led by the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), with the international coordination supported by Europol, INTERPOL, and the WCO. PANDORA V was carried out in the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).

Given the global nature of this crime, operation coordination units working 24/7 were established by Europol on one side, and the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL on the other, to support the exchange of information as well as disseminate alerts, warnings and perform cross-checks in different international and national databases.

French Customs (Douane), which seized 27 300 archaeological artifacts in a single investigation in the results of the operation, showed great success.

French custom
French Customs (Douane), seized 27 300 archaeological artifacts in a single investigation.

Operation results

    • The Spanish authorities seized more than 7 700 cultural goods including archaeological artifacts, coins, sculptures and statues, weapons, paintings, and archives of sound, film, and photography with a value in excess of €9 million.
    • During the operational phase, the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) also finalized a complex investigation initiated within the framework of Pandora III. As a result, one individual was arrested and 94 objects stolen in various places of worship were recovered. A total of €165 000 in cash was seized at his home. The arrestee is suspected of trying to sell online these stolen goods, such as a 16th-century silver chalice and an illuminated manuscript of the Apocalypse by Beatus of Liébana.
    • During searches on the internet, the Swedish Police (Polisen) identified a folk art item stolen in Sweden in 2019. At that same online auction, the Swedish Police discovered a pair of 17th-century candlesticks stolen from a Swedish church 8 years ago.
    • The Italian Carabinieri Corps (Arma dei Carabinieri) reported more than 2 700 cultural goods seized including ceramics, archaeological goods, art, and books valued at €1 155 000.
    • The Hellenic Police (Ελληνική Αστυνομία) carried out 34 arrests and recovered a total of 6 757 antiquities, including ceramic and marble objects, as well as 6 452 coins, 5 533 of which were recovered in one single investigation. In one case, two Greek nationals were arrested for trying to sell 6 marble and clay antiquities for €150 000.
    • A total of 50 metal detectors were seized, and 6 of them were seized directly in archaeological sites, clearly demonstrating that such sites are under threat.
    • Several hundreds of Word War II grenades and other explosive devices were seized by the Police Force of the Slovak Republic (Policajný zbor Slovenskej Republiky). This is a worrisome development as some of these old explosive devices are still functional and may lead to numerous casualties.
Pandora V
Operation Pandora V 

Internatıonal coordination

Europol, as co-leader of this action, played a key role in implementing the entire operation by facilitating information exchange, and providing analytical and operational support. The WCO also facilitated intelligence exchange among different agencies through a special user group created on its CENComm communication platform.

INTERPOL connected Balkan and European participating countries, facilitating the exchange of information through its secure communications system. A dedicated expert supported the entire operation by double-checking searches against INTERPOL’s Stolen Works of Art database to locate and identify stolen and missing items.

Participating countries: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Source: İNTERPOL Press Release

Related Articles

One-of-a-kind 1000- years-old gold earring found in Denmark

13 December 2021

13 December 2021

A metal detectorist in Denmark uncovered a one-of-a-kind piece of 11th-century gold jewelry that had never been seen in Scandinavia...

3000-year-old clay figurine discovered in Germany may be a prehistoric water goddess

14 July 2022

14 July 2022

Archaeologists have discovered a rare clay figurine thought to represent a prehistoric water goddess in the Schweinfurt region of Germany....

Radiocarbon dating makes it possible for the first time to check the extent to which archaeological findings match historical events from written sources

17 November 2023

17 November 2023

Researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences have published a new radiocarbon dataset for Tel Gezer, one of the most...

A 1,300-year-old necklace is the ‘richest of its type ever uncovered in Britain’

6 December 2022

6 December 2022

Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) archaeologists have found a “once-in-a-lifetime” 1,300-year-old gold and gemstone necklace dating back to 630-670 AD...

The 1,800-year-old ‘Iron Legion’ Roman Legionary Base uncovered at the foot of Tel Megiddo

14 February 2024

14 February 2024

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced that a recent excavation at the foot of Tel Megiddo, near the ancient village...

Medieval Hub of Arts & Crafts Center discovered in Nola: The discovery could rewrite the history of early medieval Nola

23 August 2023

23 August 2023

On the outskirts of Nola, a district from the early Middle Ages has been discovered. According to the Soprintendenza Archeologia,...

Ancient fish processing factories were discovered in ancient Roman city of Balsa, Portugal

18 July 2022

18 July 2022

In the Roman city of Balsa, one of the most important and symbolic archaeological sites in southern Portugal, archaeologists have...

Altar site for Greek goddess Demeter unearthed in Turkey’s ancient city of Blaundus

21 December 2021

21 December 2021

An altar site for the Greek goddess Demeter was unearthed during the ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Blaundus,...

1.5 tons of bronze coins found in east China

19 December 2022

19 December 2022

An ancient coin hoard containing 1.5 tonnes of coins from the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties has been discovered...

Scientists discover 4 new Nazca Geoglyphs using AI deep learning

4 June 2023

4 June 2023

Scientists from Japan used AI deep learning to discover new geoglyphs in the Arid Peruvian coastal plain, in the northern...

12,000-year-old ‘public building’ unearthed in southeastern Turkey’s Mardin

27 September 2022

27 September 2022

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a “public building” thought to be 12,000 years old at Boncuklu Tarla in the...

China’s 4300-Year-Old Ancient Pyramids

26 March 2021

26 March 2021

Shaanxi Province in Northwest China is famous for its rich archaeological treasures. Among the many sites discovered in Shaanxi, the...

Cosmic cataclysm 1,500 years ago may have caused downfall of the Hopewell Culture

3 February 2022

3 February 2022

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati find evidence of cosmic cataclysm 1,500 years ago at 11 ancient sites in three...

One of the oldest known mosques in the world uncovered in Israel

23 June 2022

23 June 2022

A team of Israeli archaeologists has discovered what is one of the oldest known mosques in the world. Israeli archaeologists...

Terracotta Figurines of the ancient cult of the goddess Cybele discovered in Pompeii Domus

26 December 2023

26 December 2023

Archaeologists unearthed 13 terracotta figurines during recent excavations in the Domus adjacent to the “House of Leda and the Swan”...