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Italian police smash ring trafficking in ancient artifacts

July 4, 2018 GMT

ROME (AP) — Italian police have dismantled an international ring trafficking in what prosecutors allege are thousands of ancient artifacts illegally excavated in Sicily.

Maj. Luigi Mancuso, in Palermo for the Carabinieri paramilitary art squad, said Wednesday that investigators allege that the digs were commissioned by a London art dealer, William Veres, 64, who was served with an international warrant.

Twenty Italians were arrested in Italy, one in Spain, and one in Germany.

Mancuso said Veres had been arrested in 2017 in Spain in an unrelated investigation by the Carabinieri art experts.

Some 20,000 objects recovered included ancient coins, statues and pottery, as well as fake artifacts.

Police say many objects were smuggled into Germany, where they were falsely labeled as legitimate and offered by auction houses in Munich.