Bulgarian Police Capture Treasure Hunter with over 300 Archaeological Artifacts , Coins
Police officers in the southern Bulgarian city of Smolyan have arrested a treasure hunter confiscating over 300 ancient and/or medieval coins as well as a number of other archaeological artifacts.
The 31-year-old man named Radostin M., a native of the town of Laka, was nabbed on July 15, 2015, when his car was pulled over by the local police, reports the Bulgarian state news agency BTA citing the Smolyan District Prosecutor’s Office.
Inside the car the police officers discovered a total of 335 coins. Another 17 coins as well as 19 archaeological artifacts, two metal detectors, and 32 bullets of various caliber were found later in the man’s home.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Smolyan has charged the treasure hunter, and commissioned an examination by experts of the coins and artifacts. No details have been announced about the coins and artifacts, and no photos have been released so far.
The home town of the treasure hunter is close to Momchilova Krepost, i.e. Momchil’s Fortress, an archaeological site located 17 km south of the city of Smolyan.
Treasure hunting and illegal trafficking of antiques have been rampant in Bulgaria after the collapse of the communism regime in 1989 (and allegedly before that). Estimates vary but some consider this the second most profitable activity for the Bulgarian mafia after drug trafficking. One recent estimate suggests its annual turnover amounts to BGN 500 million (app. EUR 260 million), and estimates of the number of those involved range from about 5 000 to 200 000 – 300 000, the vast majority of whom are impoverished low-level diggers.