A total of 946 archaeological artifacts have been seized from treasure hunters by the Bulgarian police in the northeastern Silistra District.
The policeoperation in the town of Gravinitsa was carried out by officers from the local police, the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDBOP), and the Border Police.
The police have detained a total of four men suspected as treasure hunters, after raiding a local grocerystore and finding there almost 1,000 coins and other archaeological artifacts from different time periods.
After that the policeraided the homes of the detainees. In the first house they found two catalogs of medieval Bulgarian and Byzantine coins, computers with numismaticsoftware, two metaldetectors and diggingtools.
In two other homes in the town of Chukovets, the police found ancient coins, 5 metal detectors, and part of a ring.
A metal detector used for treasure hunting was also discovered in the home of the fourth suspect in the town of Kalugerene.
The press center of the Bulgarian Interior Ministry says all four of the suspects have been known for their treasurehuntingactivity. Two of the men have been left in the arrest as the investigation continues.
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.