‘Archaeologist police unit’ foils smuggling attempt of 50,000 artifacts

‘Archaeologist police unit’ foils smuggling attempt of 50,000 artifacts

ANKARA – Demirören News Agency
‘Archaeologist police unit’ foils smuggling attempt of 50,000 artifacts

A police team formed under the Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Department of the Turkish General Directorate of security has saved more than 50,000 artifacts from being smuggled from Anatolia in two operations in the first half of the year.

The team consists of 10 “archaeologist policemen,” including three police superintendents and seven police officers.

The first operation conducted by the team was named “Operation Anatolian,” which was considered the “first operation against the illegal trafficking of historical works” in the history of the Turkish Republic based on the “revenue obtained by crime.”

The “archaeologist police team” found the trace of a total of 20,485 smuggled historical artifacts and brought them all back to the country.

The operation started as a smuggler was detained at the Bajakova Gate between Croatia and Serbia with some artifacts. Monitoring a U.S.-based European smuggling gang, the team then conducted simultaneous operations in Türkiye’s 30 of all 81 provinces and in Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria with the local security forces.

Some 86 members of the gang were arrested, and more than 20,000 artifacts were saved.

The second operation of the team was “Operation Heritage,” during which simultaneous operations were conducted in some 38 provinces of the country.

Some 120 suspects were detained, as 29,011 historical artifacts were caught before being taken out of the country.

According to local reports, the team followed the gang for a year before starting the operation.

“The team conducts facilities to monitor crime gangs in smuggling and preventing the historical artifacts from being smuggled to other countries,” Onur Sürücü, a 3rd-degree police chief serving in the team, said.

According to Sürücü, the team’s works are based on massive operations taking too much time on planning.

“The latest two ops, ‘Anatolian’ and ‘Heritage,’ were at international levels,” Sürücü said. “These ops are important as they affirm our thesis that artifacts stolen from Türkiye are sold in auctions worldwide.”

Sürücü is proud to say that “all the artifacts were brought back” as part of the work coordinated with the Foreign Ministry.

When asked why the team is called “archaeologist police unit,” Sürücü replied, “There are officers in the team who are archaeology graduates.”

These police officers contribute to the team with their archaeology knowledge and experience, according to the police officer.