Italian police smash £30m international ancient artefact smuggling ring

Italian police smash £30m international ancient artefact smuggling ringPolice have arrested an international ring of traffickers alleged to have smuggled thousands of stolen Sicilian archaeological treasures worth more than £30 million to collectors and auction houses across Europe. A British art dealer and 20 Italians have been arrested, along with one person in Spain and another in Germany, after police identified artefacts looted from Greek and Roman archeological sites in Sicily. Investigators, who began probing the ring four years ago, said a gang had “systematically looted Sicily’s rich archaeological heritage”, with police recovering more than 25,000 items including ancient coins, statues and pottery.  For decades, it is alleged, a gang has plundered archaeological sites in the provinces of Caltanisetta and Agrigento, where the ancient Greek Valley of the Temples are located, before being sold via auction houses in Germany. Europol, which financed the meetings between each country’s forces, said that key facilitators in the trafficking ring were “also acting from Barcelona and London, coordinating the supply chain and providing technical support”.  Metropolitan Police officers acting on a European arrest warrant issued by Italian magistrates Wednesday arrested the art dealer, Thomas William Veres, 64, in London, a Carabinieri paramilitary police spokesman told a news conference. Egypt has put on display ancient artifacts recently retrieved from Italy that authorities said were likely smuggled out of the country Credit: AP Photo/Amr Nabil The investigation, code-named ‘Operation Demetra’, is now continuing with a probe of two notable auction houses in Munich, Major Luigi Mancuso said. Up to 250 officers have already been involved in the search from the Carabinieri, which leads Italy’s efforts to defend its national art treasures and has a special command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage based in Rome. During searches carried out across Europe yesterday, officers also seized metal detectors among 1,500 tools allegedly used by smuggling gangs to locate artefacts. Last night, a Met Police spokesman told The Telegraph that officers from the Arts and Antiques unit, in conjunction with the officers from the Extradition Unit, Operation Nexus and Italian police, executed a warrant in Stanmore on Wednesday “A 64-year-old man was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant and taken to a north London police station. A large quantity of antiquities and coins were seized,” he added. The Sicilian smuggling operation is alleged to have been masterminded by Francesco Lucerna, 76, another of those arrested Wednesday. Mr Lucerna regularly dispatched stolen archaeological remains to northern Italy through a network of couriers where they allegedly made contact with Mr Veres’ gang, investigators believe. The gang also set up workshops where teams of counterfeiters copied some of the archaeological remains and sold replica copies as originals, it is alleged. William Veres out at an art and antiquities fair in Berkeley Square, London, in 2014 Credit:  Dafydd Jones Much of the loot was smuggled to Germany. It had been “cleaned up” with fake attribution of origin and put on the legitimate art market through the auction houses in Munich, police told reporters. Two Munich auction houses are reportedly under investigation in connection with the smuggling operation. Among the suspects held across Europe was a 61-year-old Italian arrested in the German town of Ehingen. Police found €30,000 (£26,000) in cash in his apartment, according to German press reports. Mr Veres is of Hungarian origin, but said to have lived in Switzerland. Last year, he was arrested by Spanish police on charges of alleged possession of dozens of stolen treasures. “The London art merchant Thomas William Veres commanded a transnational criminal holding that was able to traffic considerable quantities of Sicilian archaeological artifacts,” Maj. Mancuso said. The arrests bring to a close an investigation that began in 2014 when police discovered an illegal archaeological dig in the sleepy Mafia-infested town of Riesi in the impoverished Sicilian province of Caltanisetta. Spanish Guardia Civil agents nabbed an alleged accomplice in Barcelona, Andrea Palma, 36, an Italian, and German police from Baden-Wurttemberg arrested another alleged gang member in the German town of Edingen, who was identified as another Italian, Rocco Mondello, aged 61.


Source: Yahoo! News

Five dead after Texas police chase car full of immigrants 'suspected of smuggling'

Five dead after Texas police chase car full of immigrants 'suspected of smuggling'Five people have been killed and several others injured after an SUV suspected of smuggling illegal immigrants crashed while fleeing from Border Patrol agents in South Texas, authorities said. The driver of the car, who was transporting 13 other people, lost control while travelling at around 100 mph. The vehicle overturned on Texas Highway 85 and most of the occupants were thrown out of the vehicle, Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd said. “From what we can tell the vehicle ran off the road and caught gravel and then tried to re-correct,” Mr Boyd said, adding that “caused the vehicle to turn over several times”.


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Truck driver involved in human-smuggling plot that killed 10 people is sentenced to life in prison

  1. Truck driver involved in human-smuggling plot that killed 10 people is sentenced to life in prison  New York Daily News
  2. Trucker In Human Smuggling Case Sentenced To Life In Prison  NPR
  3. Truck driver gets life sentence for role in death of 10 immigrants in Texas  CNN
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She shared drug-smuggling vacation on social media. Now 'Cocaine Babe' is off to prison.

  1. She shared drug-smuggling vacation on social media. Now ‘Cocaine Babe’ is off to prison.  Chron.com
  2. Melina Roberge: 5 Things About Girl, 24, Going To Prison For Trying To Smuggle $16M Of Drugs On Cruise  Hollywood Life
  3. Cocaine smuggler gets 8 years in $21M case, chastised by judge for social media lifestyle  Fox News
  4. Prison sentence for Instagram star cruise ship cocaine importer  NEWS.com.au
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Canadian who posted drug smuggling trip on Instagram sentenced to prison

  1. Canadian who posted drug smuggling trip on Instagram sentenced to prison  CNN
  2. Cocaine smuggler gets 8 years in $21M case, chastised by judge for social media lifestyle  Fox News
  3. Instagram Influencer Known as ‘Cocaine Babe’ Weeps as She’s Sent to Prison for Drug Smuggling  PEOPLE.com
  4. Prison sentence for Instagram star cruise ship cocaine importer  NEWS.com.au
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Instagram Influencer Known as 'Cocaine Babe' Weeps As She's Sent to Prison for Drug Smuggling

  1. Instagram Influencer Known as ‘Cocaine Babe’ Weeps As She’s Sent to Prison for Drug Smuggling  PEOPLE.com
  2. Cocaine smuggler gets 8 years in $21M case, chastised by judge for social media lifestyle  Fox News
  3. Instagram-obsessed drug mule cries as she is sentenced to eight years for trying to smuggle cocaine on cruise ship  New York Daily News
  4. Canadian woman Melina Roberge jailed for role in smuggling 24kg of cocaine into Australia  ABC Online
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