The objects were illegally exported to Spain

Antiques that have become the object of international trafficking in cultural property have been returned to Bulgaria's General Directorate Combating Organized Crime (GDCOC), the Interior Ministry said here on Thursday.

The objects were illegally exported to Spain, from where they were shpped ivia public postal stations towards the US. Among the valuable artefacts returned were a helmet purchased for USD 200,000 and seized by the US Customs and Border Protection, as well as metal containers seized in the UK. 

The return of the valuable antiques was made possible by joint, active investigations into six cases involving their illegal export from Bulgaria. The active exchange between the GDCOC and the security services in the USA, the UK, Italy and Germany led to the achieved result, Chief Inspector Tigran Vardanyan from GDCOC's unit investigating trafficking in cultural vauables said. He explained that each case was in a different time period. Many of the objects bearing cultural and historical marks were returned from the USA, also in joint investigations. According to him, they were trafficked from Bulgaria, purchased by various groups of illegal treasure hunters and exported to Spain. Through public postal stations, the perpetrators directed the shipments to the United States, and the intention was to sell the objects there individually. 

After a tip-off from the GDCOC, their US counterparts seized the antiques at the US border, he said.  According to him, the operational work began in 2017 at the request of the New York prosecutor's office, and so far about 180 items worth USD 70 million have been seized.

The director of the General Directorate Cultural Heritage Protection Inspectorate under the Ministry of Culture, Aleksandar Traykov, said that once the return process is completed, the valuables will be handed over to the Ministry of Culture. From there, they will be handed over to museums, which will be responsible for identifying, cleaning and including them in exhibitions.

Източник: BTA