Bulgaria with 50 000 Illegal Antique Collections
Bulgaria has nearly 50 000 undeclared antique collections, Prosecutor Nikolay Solarov, says.
Upon the expiration of the grace period to declare these collections, only 200 people have informed they possess precious antique objects. Those who fail to do so face up to 4 years behind bars, but authorities are considering extending the grace period by another 6 months. It was already extended by half a year, which expires at the end of 2010.
On his part, Volodya Velkov, head of the department dealing with antique smuggling at the Unit for Combating Organized Crime (GDBOP) explains that since 2006, his employees have conducted 69 operations leading to the effective countering of the internal illegal antiques market.
However, Velkov says there are 200 to 300 illegal treasure hunting groups in Bulgaria, digging on orders from customers and having top of the line equipment such as 3D radars at the cost of USD 50 000 each.
The GDBOP employee further informed about 5 illegal channels for antique smuggling from Bulgaria to the US, with one of them dismantled over the efforts of the department.
The main traffic goes through Austria, Velkov says.
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