“Dutch Police spotted a 15th-century bible that had been stolen in Germany over 25 years ago. This rare edition was seized and returned to Germany,” Europol said about one of the “highlights”. Another remarkable seizure, Europol said, was “an ancient Mesopotamian crystal cylinder seal that had been shipped to Germany by post” that was sequestrated by German Customs.
The cross-border operation, named “Pandora III”, took place last year between October 22 and 30 and resulted in the arrest of 59 individuals and the confiscation of 18,000 goods in total, including furniture, coins and paintings among other items. “The majority of objects seized during the operation were from European countries; however, more than 30 objects originated in countries outside Europe, such as Colombia, Egypt, Iraq and Morocco,” the Europol statement read.
The items were sold online on websites, social media or via instant messaging applications. The operation consisted of “inspections in auction houses, art galleries, museums and private [locations]”, as well as in raids on “ports, airports and border crossing points” and inspections at archaeological sites. Pandora III was launched by law enforcement authorities from 29 countries coordinated by the Spanish Civil Guard and supported by Europol, Interpol and the World Customs Organization, WCO.
According to the Council of Europe, CoE, “poor administrative capacity at both central and local level, corruption and improper economic conditions to follow heritage policies on medium and long terms” put cultural heritage in danger in Romania. However, the CoE noted, the capacity of the country’s judiciary to fight traffic of cultural goods has improved.