An employee of the State Agency for National Security in the Bulgarian town of Haskovo is among four people facing charges in connection with illegally trading in items of cultural and historical value, prosecutors and police told a briefing on October 11.
One of the items seized in the operation against the group, a golden wreath weighing about 400 grams, has an estimated value of two million euro, according to Hristo Popov, deputy head of Bulgaria’s National Archaeological Museum.
Also found were other antique jewellery items, including rings and bracelets. These were extremely valuable not only in monetary, but also in cultural and historical terms, the statement said. All are said to date from the second half of the fourth century BCE.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev said that laboratory examination of the items had confirmed their authenticity.
Bulgaria’s Chief Directorate for Combating Organised Crime had been investigating for several months after receiving information from the State Agency for National Security, prosecutors said.
The result was a joint operation at the beginning of this week in the region of Svilengrad.
Seven people were taken into custody, of whom four were participants in the organised crime group, the statement said.
One of those detained had been involved in treasure hunting until 15 years ago, after which he had “risen” in the hierarchy of the criminal business, according to prosecutors.
The statement said that preliminary information was that the group had attempted to sell the items in Turkey.
Investigations are proceeding, including into where the group got the items.
The items will be handed over the the National Archaeological Institute.