Operation Pandora seizes over 3000 stolen art objects

©Europol

THE HAGUE - Europol, the European agency assisting EU Member States in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism, has joined forces with law enforcement authorities from 18 countries, INTERPOL, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the World Customs Organization (WCO) to tackle the theft and illicit trafficking of cultural goods.
Operation Pandora took place in October and November 2016 and was successfully led by Cypriot and Spanish police and resulted in 3561 works of art and cultural items being seized, almost half of which were archaeological objects.
Several of the retrieved artefacts are of great cultural importance in the archaeological world, such as a marble Ottoman tombstone and a post-Byzantine icon depicting Saint George, along with two Byzantine artefacts. All of them were seized in Greece during actions carried out by the Hellenic Police.
The aim of Operation Pandora was to dismantle criminal networks involved in cultural theft and exploitation, and identify potential links to other criminal activities. Moreover, there was a special focus on cultural spoliation, both underwater and on land, and the illicit trafficking of cultural goods, with a particular emphasis on conflict countries.
Police carried out inspections of internet sites and art galleries and at checkpoints in their hunt for illicit artefacts, and even searched scuba-diving schools for items plundered from underwater sites.
Source: Europol press release