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Police from around the world have worked together to find lots of missing art. The detectives were from Interpol, Europol and many national police forces. The World Customs Organization also helped with the search. The police officers found more than 19,000 items of artwork. These include an ancient Colombian gold mask that is over 600 years old. There was also a carved Roman lion, centuries-old jewellery, and thousands of ancient coins. Many of the items the police recovered were stolen from museums and archaeological sites. A lot of them were taken from countries at war. The thieves took cultural treasures while countries were in a mess because of fighting civil wars or wars against other countries.



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The police arrested 101 art traffickers around the world. The art thieves were from Spain, Colombia, Latvia, Afghanistan and Turkey. Interpol said they spent a long time monitoring online marketplaces to find the art and the thieves. Interpol's secretary-general Jürgen Stock spoke to journalists about how big the operation was. He said: "The number of arrests and objects shows the scale and global reach of the illicit trade in cultural artefacts, where every country with a rich heritage is a potential target." Interpol added: "Organised crime has many faces. The trafficking of cultural goods is one of them. It is not a glamorous business run by flamboyant gentlemen forgers, but by international criminal networks."

Sources:

  • https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/07/stolen-artefacts-international-art-trafficking-crackdown
  • https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/interpol-crackdown-artifacts/index.html
  • https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/19000-artifacts-recovered-international-antiquities-trafficking-sting-1-180974836/

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