Macedonia: international antiquities looting gang – the Serbian connection

Macedonian police have raided 23 homes and businesses, and arrested 17 people who are suspected of being members of an antiquities looting gang who had looted archaeological sites and robbed churches, including two state museum employees and one police officer.

Not much information has been made public, but it is intriguing to note that two (as-yet-unarrested) ‘Serbian nationals’ are also ‘suspected of involvement in the ring that allegedly sought to sell the antiquities abroad’. Did the Serbian nationals live and loot in Macedonia; did they form an integral part of a Macedonian-run but complete, mafia-like, theft-to-sale criminal organisation; or did the Macedonians form a specialist looting gang and the Serbians form a specialist smuggling ring in a criminal network?

Also, did the museum workers and the police officer simply supplement their income with part-time looting, or did they perform specific functions within the gang? For example, did the museum workers identify and value the antiquities; did the police officers forge export licences for the antiquities, smuggle them across the border, or prevent their seizure at customs?

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