multi-commodity trafficking or poly-trafficking in the Mediterranean: antiquities and narcotics in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey

In the course of a study of looting in the North-Eastern Mediterranean, in order to check for potential evidence of multi-commodity trafficking or poly-trafficking, I reviewed the 167 results for antiquities and narcotics in Greek (αρχαιότητες and ναρκωτικά) and the 120 results for antiquities and narcotics in Turkish (tarihi eser and uyuşturucu).

However, the text for that section ran to more than 5,700 words (without the bibliography), so I cut them from the draft. Hopefully, they’ll be incorporated into another study. Nevertheless, I thought that it might be useful to share the proof-of-concept evidence immediately.

notes on results

statistics

Statistics on publicised reports of cases are not necessarily useful for comparing the apparent scale of various activities within antiquities trafficking, because policing focuses on more socially-concerning crime, such as narcotics trafficking; reporting focuses on more newsworthy cases, not necessarily typical activity; and search engine visibility varies with search engine algorithms, subject-targeting keywords and the rest. The identified number of keyword-matching sources has sometimes varied somewhat in runs and reruns of these searches, but these “undervisible” sources only affirm that there is more evidence than is immediately apparent.

For instance, it is tempting to conduct comprehensive reviews of the results of searches for generic terms for the trafficking of antiquities, in order to gauge the scale of its interrelations with the trafficking of other commodities.

Yet, on one occasion on 18th September 2019, including any and all irrelevant/duplicate reports (though excluding any and all duplicate reports that Google had excluded automatically), there were between 12 per cent fewer and 9 per cent more results for Greek-language searches for antiquities and caught (αρχαιότητες and πιάστηκε, around 137), antiquities and seized (αρχαιότητες and κατασχεθεί, around 143), antiquities and detained (αρχαιότητες and κρατούμενος, around 144), antiquities and arrested (αρχαιότητες and συνελήφθη, around 170) and antiquities and caught or seized or detained or arrested (αρχαιότητες AND πιάστηκε OR κατασχεθεί OR κρατούμενος OR συνελήφθη, around 137) as for antiquities and narcotics (αρχαιότητες and ναρκωτικά, around 156, though it ranged between 130 and 167; and all of the apparently novel results will have included irrelevant/duplicate reports).

Likewise, on one occasion on 18th September 2019, including any and all irrelevant/duplicate reports (though excluding any and all duplicate reports that Google had excluded automatically), there were up to 33 per cent fewer results for Turkish-language searches for antiquities and caught (tarihi eser and yakalandı, around 94), antiquities and seized (tarihi eser and ele geçirildi, around 100), antiquities and detained (tarihi eser and gözaltı, around 80), antiquities and arrested (tarihi eser and tutuklandı, around 100) and antiquities and (variations on) caught or (variations on) seized or (variations on) detained or (variations on) arrested (tarihi eser AND yakalanma OR yakalandı OR ele geçirme OR ele geçirildi OR gözaltı OR gözaltına OR tutuklandı OR tutuklanma, around 93) than for antiquities and narcotics (tarihi eser and uyuşturucu, around 120, around which it stayed; meanwhile, synonymous eski eser and uyuşturucu had around 127, which appeared to include a few relevant novel results).

comparisons

Obviously, to even attempt a comparison, the irrelevant results and multiple reports of individual cases would need to be excluded. The potential uselessness of that comparison is highlighted by the fact that the advanced searches for multiple word combinations for antiquities produced fewer results than some of the simple searches for individual word combinations for antiquities, even without the confusion of keywords from other subjects like narcotics, which may appear in or around reports on antiquities cases, yet not be relevant to those cases (as keywords from antiquities may appear in or around reports on narcotics cases, yet not be relevant to those cases).

For the sake of affirmation, on one occasion on 19th September 2019, including any and all irrelevant/duplicate reports and including any and all duplicate reports that Google had previously excluded, there were similar numbers of results for Turkish-language searches for antiquities and caught (tarihi eser and yakalandı, around 399), antiquities and seized (tarihi eser and ele geçirildi, around 430), antiquities and detained (tarihi eser and gözaltı, around 398), antiquities and arrested (tarihi eser and tutuklandı, around 440) and antiquities and (variations on) caught or (variations on) seized or (variations on) detained or (variations on) arrested (tarihi eser AND yakalanma OR yakalandı OR ele geçirme OR ele geçirildi OR gözaltı OR gözaltına OR tutuklandı OR tutuklanma, around 420) as for antiquities and narcotics (tarihi eser and uyuşturucu, around 430, around which it stayed; meanwhile, synonymous eski eser and uyuşturucu had around 398). As before, the advanced search for multiple word combinations for antiquities produced fewer results than the simple search for the individual word combination for antiquities and narcotics.

Still, as has been demonstrated in relation to looting-to-order and/or theft-to-order of cultural property, this kind of research may be (more) useful in documenting the existence, functioning and range of a phenomenon.

Once irrelevant reports (such as one from Greece where parents were found with a cultural object and a metal-detector and their son was found with drugs for personal consumption, e.g. Lamia Report, 2017, or one from Turkey where narcotics were sought yet antiquities were found, e.g. Karabük Net Haber, 2014, even one from Turkey where narcotics were sought and found as well as suspected antiquities yet not with the same person at the same time, e.g. Memurlar, 2018, where the suspects had methamphetamine, according to a more detailed duplicate report, and the photographs suggest that the cultural objects were fake artefacts) and multiple reports on individual cases had been excluded, the sample contained 80 (53 Greek-language and 27 Turkish-language) sources.

When reports in results were no longer accessible, republications elsewhere were cited. When examples were added from a personal archive of antiquities cases to contextualise the results – for instance, by demonstrating the existence of activity on both sides of Cyprus (e.g. O’Connell-Schizas, 2014) – [AR] was inserted to identify the source as an archival record instead of a search result. (Naturally, the archival examples were excluded from the statistical analysis.)

exclusions

When considering the range of evidence, it must be remembered that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between self-supplying private collectors and commercial suppliers, due to the vagaries of criminal activities and police operations and due to the occasional blurring of the distinction between collector and supplier by collectors who sell unwanted objects and suppliers who keep wanted ones.

Likewise, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between personal users and commercial suppliers of narcotics (and indeed arms). Conceivably, many of the coincidences of antiquities and narcotics might suggest consumption rather than trafficking of drugs.

One report listed a tiny quantity of anti-anxiety medication as part of the seizure. So, I did not include unspecified “tablets”, etc. as “synthetic drugs” unless they were specifically identified as narcotics or had been stashed in quantities that indicated commercial supply rather than personal consumption.

It was more difficult to distinguish incidents in which traffickers of antiquities and narcotics were caught from incidents in which traffickers of antiquities and traffickers of narcotics were caught. On the precautionary principle, singular reports of plural operations were excluded, unless they specified that cultural objects had been found with narcotic substances or otherwise that the same individual or group was suspected of illegal handling of both kinds of commodities.

quirks of search and queries of categorisation – undervisible evidence

The findings for uyuşturucu and eski eser were excluded from statistical analysis for the sake of consistency, not least because several of the novel results were texts with uyuşturucu and tarihi eser that had not appeared in the other search. However, they were noteworthy.

One of the novel results may have been excluded from the other search as a mistakenly-identified duplicate result for a report about a seizure of antiquities and cannabis in Turkey, though the content of the brief article was somewhat more distinct than many others, which often have identical titles, almost-identical texts and sometimes almost-identical dates.

One may have been a literally novel result, which had been indexed by the engine between searches, since it used the “tarihi eser” form of the term and was published on the same day as the searches that were used for the analysis. In Turkey, a group of four had been detained for credit card fraud (kredi kartı dolandırıcılığı), who also had fake alcohol, ancient coins, narcotic substances and ammunition for firearms.

It’s not clear why other results didn’t appear before. One reported an operation in Turkey in which 13 were detained, with antiquities as well as cannabis, methamphetamine, ecstasy, (other) synthetic drugs, poppy plants and firearms.

Another reported a raid on a trafficker in Turkey, who had antiquities that ‘[had] been obtained by illegal excavation [kaçak kazıdan elde edildiği]’, as well as cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine and poppy seeds, plus 34 CDs of child sexual abuse. No subsequent reports were identifiable, so it’s not clear whether the trafficker was a consumer or (also) a distributor of paedophile media.

Yet another reported an operation in Turkey, in which 19 were detained, with antiquities as well as narcotics and firearms. The suspects included a former leader of the youth wing of a local branch of an opposition party and the current leader of the youth wing of that local branch of that opposition party – or, as the headline stated, ‘CHP leader [CHP’li başkan]’. Such a case may hint at both politicised policing and politicised reporting.

coincidences of antiquities and narcotics

At this stage of research, any variations in the chronological frequency and regional intensity of reports should be ignored, as they may simply be products of the sample size; search engine rankings; the unstable maintenance of online archives by regional publishers; the ever-increasing emergence of online outlets, which may document a broader range of local stories than would be recorded in national or international publications; and the closure of media in oppressive political environments.

At the same time, the span of the cases – across a decade in documents online and across at least five decades in documents offline – cannot be ignored. These demonstrate the historical depth and persistence of the practice of multi-commodity trafficking or poly-trafficking of antiquities and drugs.

Everything is phrased in terms of suspicion of handling. It does not indicate ownership, use or trafficking. It simply acknowledges the evidence in the report.

There is evidence in Cyprus, including:

  • in the south, Pafos Live, 2019, where a 38-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman were suspected of handling methamphetamine and cocaine as well as antiquities;
  • Christodoulou, 2018, where a 54-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Kathimerini, 2018c, where a 32-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities and using two metal-detectors; and
  • Omega Live, 2018, where a 38-year-old man and a 29-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis and methamphetamine as well as antiquities; and,
  • in the north, Girne Postası, 2018, where 38-year-old, 45-year-old and 48-year-old persons were suspected of handling cannabis and cocaine as well as antiquities;
  • Hardy, 2018b [AR], where the network spanned Cyprus and Turkey (see also Hardy, 2018c [AR]);
  • KKTCY, 2003 [AR];
  • Orakçıoğlu, 2018, where three men of unspecified ages were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities and the network was believed to reach Turkey as well as span the north and south of Cyprus; and
  • Yeni Düzen, 2019, where a 41-year-old man, who was a ‘”lawless” police [officer] [kanunsuz” polis]’, was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities and a metal-detector (as documented in a more detailed result from a synonymous search).

There is evidence in Greece:

  • Aftodioikisi, 2016, where a 52-year-old man, a 68-year-old man, a 71-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Aftodioikisi, 2018, where a 35-year-old man had cannabis and synthetic drugs as well as antiquities;
  • Alpha FM, 2012, where a 58-year-old man had cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Archaiologia, 2015, where a 43-year-old man was suspected of handling narcotics as well as antiquities, plus firearms that were only documented in photographs of the seizure and are thus excluded from statistical analysis;
  • Brodie, 2015 [AR], where trafficking routes to Western markets included Cyprus and Turkey;
  • Crete Plus, 2017, where a 34-year-old man and a 52-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Dramini, 2017, where the 28-year-old man was suspected of handling synthetic drugs, (equipment for) cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • e-kalamaria, 2018, where the 41-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis and synthetic drugs as well as antiquities;
  • e-thessalia, 2017, where 23 persons in two criminal organisations and 2 associates, who encompassed 20 Greek men and 1 Greek woman between the ages of 22 and 67 and 4 Albanian men between the ages of 22 and 32, were suspected of handling cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, (other) synthetic drugs and firearms as well as antiquities and one metal-detector (while at least two more suspected gang members were identified);
  • Efimerida ton Syntakton, 2018, where a 34-year-old man and a 48-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Elliniki Astynomia, 2018b, where 10 persons in one criminal organisation and 3 associates, who encompassed men between the ages of 39 and 61, were suspected of handling cannabis, synthetic drugs and firearms as well as antiquities and two metal-detectors;
  • ERT, 2018, where a 43-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis, illicit tobacco and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Europost, 2019, where a 36-year-old Macedonian man was suspected of handling heroin as well as antiquities;
  • evia365, 2017, where an 81-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Faros24, 2016, where the 49-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis and synthetic drugs as well as antiquities;
  • FlashNews, 2011, where a 45-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Foteinaki, 2014, where a 30-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Halkidiki News, 2018, where a 53-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • In Komotini News, 2015, where a 52-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis, illicit tobacco and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • K-Tipos, 2016, where two persons of unspecified ages were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities and one metal-detector;
  • Kathimerini, 2013, where a 29-year-old man and a 31-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Koini Gnomi, 2015, where a 39-year-old man and a 36-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis, heroin, synthetic drugs and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Kozan, 2018, where a 45-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Laconia Live, 2019, where a 53-year-old man, a 59-year-old man, a 62-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman were suspected of handling cannabis, heroin, illicit tobacco and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Lamia FM-1, 2018, where a 45-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities and one metal-detector;
  • Lefkada Press, 2017, where a 45-year-old man, a 46-year-old man, a 47-year-old man and a 49-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Lefkada Press, 2018, where a 43-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Magnesia News, 2014, where a 39-year-old woman and a 41-year-old man were suspected of handling synthetic drugs, counterfeit medicine and firearms as well as antiquities and one metal-detector;
  • Messinia Live, 2017, where a 35-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Messinia Live, 2019, where a 71-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Naftemporiki, 2018, where eight persons in two criminal organisations, who encompassed men between the ages of 22 and 44, were suspected of handling cannabis, synthetic drugs, counterfeit currency and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • NOW24, 2013, where a 54-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • NOW24, 2017, where 34-year-old and 52-year-old persons were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • o Politis, 2013, where a 34-year-old man and a 37-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Orizontes, 2017, where a 76-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis, magic mushrooms and illicit tobacco as well as antiquities;
  • Patris News, 2017, where a 43-year-old Albanian man was suspected of handling synthetic drugs as well as antiquities;
  • Pentapostagma, 2018, where a 38-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • prlogos, 2016, where a 51-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities and three metal-detectors;
  • Proto Thema, 2017, where a 61-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman were suspected of handling narcotics as well as antiquities;
  • Radio Lasithi, 2017, where a 51-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis, cocaine and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Spartorama, 2019, where a 60-year-olf man and a 57-year-old woman were suspected of handling heroin, synthetic drugs and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • ta Nea, 2014, where a 49-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities and two metal-detectors, though the metal-detectors were only documented in photographs of the seizure and are thus excluded from statistical analysis;
  • Tachydromos, 2017, where a 52-year-old man and a 59-year-old woman were suspected of handling cannabis, heroin, synthetic drugs, illicit tobacco and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Thraki Today, 2016, where a 52-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis, illicit tobacco and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • topnews, 2018, where a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old man were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • to Vima, 2010, where a 34-year-old man, who was a municipal official, was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities and two metal-detectors;
  • to Vima, 2016, where 33 persons in one criminal organisation, who encompassed men between the ages of 22 and 57 and included soldiers and emergency workers, were suspected of handling cannabis, cocaine and firearms as well as antiquities and two metal-detectors;
  • Voria, 2018, where a 39-year-old man and a 35-year-old man were suspected of handling heroin, cocaine, synthetic drugs and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • We Post, 2018, where a 54-year-old man was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities; and
  • Xanthi Press, 2015, where a 70-year-old man was suspected of handling morphine and firearms as well as antiquities.

And there is evidence in Turkey, including:

  • 61saat, 2017, where three people were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • aksarayhaber68, 2018, where three people were suspected of handling heroin as well as antiquities;
  • Alper, 2019, where two men (a father and a son) were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Anadolu Ajansı, 2011, where ten men between the ages of 19 and 47 were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Anadolu Ajansı, 2014a, where ten people were suspected of handling heroin, cannabis and ecstasy as well as antiquities;
  • Anadolu Ajansı, 2014b, where one person was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Anadolu Ajansı, 2015, where a 45-year-old person was suspected of handling cannabis, cocaine and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Anadolu Ajansı, 2018b, where three men and a woman were suspected of handling heroin, cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Aydın Gunaydın, 2018, where three people were suspected of handling crystal methamphetamine (or crystal meth) and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Bölgenin Sesi, 2017, where four people were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Bolu Halk Haber, 2019, where three people were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Bursa Hayat, 2017, where a 57-year-old person, a 52-year-old person and a 34-year-old person were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities and one metal-detector;
  • Cihan Haber Ajansı, 2015, where three people were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities, though the photographs suggest that the cultural objects were fake artefacts;
  • Doğan Haber Ajansı, 2015, where seven people were suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Doğan Haber Ajansı, 2016, where one person with Syrian nationality was suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities, though the photographs suggest that the cultural objects were fake artefacts;
  • enBursa, 2018, where four people were suspected of handling methamphetamine, cannabis, ecstasy, opium and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Haberin Adresi, 2014, where three people were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities;
  • Habertürk, 2019, where one person was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Hardy, 2018a [AR] (see also Hardy, 2018c [AR]);
  • İhlas Haber Ajansı, 2018a, where one person was suspected of handling cannabis and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • İhlas Haber Ajansı, 2019, where ten people were suspected of handling synthetic drugs and firearms as well as antiquities and ten metal-detectors;
  • Kayseri Olay, 2018, where a 34-year-old person was suspected of handling cannabis, methamphetamine and firearms as well as antiquities;
  • Kırım Haber Ajansı, 2019, where three men and one woman, who were reportedly either ‘Syrian nationals [Suriye uyruklu]’ or ‘Iraqi nationals Irak uyruklu]’, were suspected of handling captagon and cannabis as well as antiquities, according to a more detailed duplicate report, though the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums educates its audiences that those coins are a type of ‘fake coin that has been reported by Adana Museum [Adana Müzesi’nden Bildirilen Sahte Sikke]’ – the ‘coin’s weight is 4.6 g and its diameter is 22 mm. On the face, there is a portrait of a woman in profile; around the edge, “VICTORIA D: G: BRITT: REG: F: D:” is read. On the reverse, there is a relief of cavalry with a rearing horse. [Sikkenin ağırlığı 4.6 gr., çapı 22 mm.dir. Ön yüzde profilden resmedilmiş bir kadın portresi yer almakta olup, çevresinde “VİCTORİA D:G:BRİTT:REG:F:D:” yazısı okunmaktadır. Arka yüzde ise şaha kalkmış bir süvari kabartması vardır.]’;
  • Sun Gazetesi, 2016, where 28 people were suspected of handling cannabis, heroin and counterfeit currency as well as antiquities and two metal-detectors; and
  • Ünyenet Haber, 2019, where three people were suspected of handling cannabis as well as antiquities.

poly-trafficking

The ‘importance of “Poly-trafficking”‘ – in which, depending on the definition, either ‘two or more illicit commodities’ or ‘several different types of controlled and illicit goods are trafficked together, or by the same organisations and routes’ – has long been noted, for example by Daniela Dicorrado-Andreoni (then Head of Sector for Conventional Disarmament and Human Security, within the Directorate-General for the External Relations of the European Commission).

The nature of the sample (and the phenomenon) prevents any estimation of the overall prevalence of the trafficking of cultural goods alongside other commodities. Possibly due to the acceptance that it is (at least now) an everyday occurrence, neither “multi-commodity trafficking” nor “poly-trafficking” seems to be discussed much as a phenomenon. However, there has been a dearth of significant evidence in relation to cultural property crime and so a tendency to doubt the likelihood of such activity.

Adding to evidence elsewhere, the reports in this review also demonstrate that, across the North-Eastern Mediterranean, it is normal (though not necessarily the norm) for antiquities (and/or fakes) to be trafficked with narcotics that encompass cannabis, magic mushrooms, cocaine, heroin, captagon, methamphetamine and (other) synthetic drugs. Moreover, in the same way that antiquities and fakes flow together, it is normal (though not necessarily the norm) for various narcotics to be trafficked together, in one combination or another. So, there is not only evidence of the flow of cultural goods along multi-commodity trafficking channels; there is also evidence of the flow of cultural goods along poly-trafficking channels.

coincidences of narcotics and metal-detectors

There are some coincidences of metal-detectors with antiquities and narcotics in Cyprus, in the south (e.g. Kathimerini, 2018c) and in the north (e.g. Yeni Düzen, 2019).

There are some in Greece (e.g. e-thessalia, 2017; Elliniki Astynomia, 2018b; K-Tipos, 2016; Lamia FM-1, 2018; Magnesia News, 2014; prlogos, 2016; ta Nea, 2014, though the metal-detector was only documented in photographs of the seizure, thereby demonstrating that the coincidences are greater than the documented and/or identifiable cases; to Vima, 2010; to Vima, 2016).

And there are some in Turkey (e.g. Bursa Hayat, 2017; Anadolu Ajansı, 2018c, which was a false positive result, where the webpage mentioned narcotics but the reported suspect only had antiquities and firearms; İhlas Haber Ajansı, 2019; Sun Gazetesi, 2016).

So, excluding the case in Greece that was only identified – and, thus, identifiable – from the photograph and the false positive result in Turkey, 9 of the 53 (17 per cent of) Greek-language reports and 4 of the 27 (15 per cent of) Turkish-language reports explicitly mentioned metal-detectors as well as antiquities and narcotics.

coincidences of antiquities and arms

There may be practical reasons for the coincident possession of shotguns and rifles and there may be identitarian reasons for the coincident possession of those or other symbolic weapons such as pistols. Nevertheless, illicit diggers, forgers, smugglers and dealers of cultural goods are often found to possess – on their person or in/on their property – firearms and/or ammunition, without regard for other weapons such as knives, as well as metal-detectors, antiquities and/or fakes.

In the results that explicitly mentioned metal-detectors, possession of firearms and/or ammunition can be seen in Cyprus (e.g. O’Connell-Schizas, 2014 [AR], in the south; Yeni Düzen, 2019, in the north).

It can be seen in Greece (e.g. e-thessalia, 2017; Elliniki Astynomia, 2018b; K-Tipos, 2016; Lamia FM-1, 2018; Magnesia News, 2014; prlogos, 2016; to Vima, 2010; to Vima, 2016).

And it can be seen in Turkey (e.g. Acar, 1989b [AR]; Bursa Hayat, 2017; İhlas Haber Ajansı, 2019).

Unsurprisingly, then, again, in the results that do not explicitly mention metal-detectors, possession of firearms and/or ammunition can be seen in Cyprus (e.g. SDNA, 2019, which was a false positive result, where the webpage mentioned narcotics but the reported suspect only had antiquities and firearms; to Thema, 2018, which was another false positive result, where the report mentioned narcotics but the relevant suspect only had antiquities and firearms).

It can be seen in Greece (e.g. Archaiologia, 2015, though the firearms were only documented in photographs of the seizure and are thus excluded from statistical analysis; Crete Plus, 2017; Dramini, 2017; Elliniki Astynomia, 2018a, which was a false positive result, where the report mentioned narcotics but the relevant suspect only had antiquities and firearms; ERT, 2018; Halkidiki News, 2018; In Komotini News, 2015; Kathimerini, 2013; Koini Gnomi, 2015; Laconia Live, 2019; Lefkada Press, 2017; Messinia Live, 2019; Naftemporiki, 2018; NOW24, 2017; Pentapostagma, 2018; Radio Lasithi, 2017; Spartorama, 2019; ta Nea, 2014, which, as noted, was only identified from one photograph of the seizure, so is excluded from statistical analysis; Tachydromos, 2017; Thraki Today, 2016; Voria, 2018; Xanthi Press, 2015).

And it can be seen in Turkey (e.g. 61saat, 2017; Alper, 2019; Anadolu Ajansı, 2014b; Anadolu Ajansı, 2015; Anadolu Ajansı, 2018a, which was a false positive result, where the report mentioned narcotics but the relevant suspect only had antiquities and firearms; Anadolu Ajansı, 2018b; Aydın Gunaydın, 2018; Doğan Haber Ajansı, 2015; enBursa, 2018; Haberin Adresi, 2014; Habertürk, 2019; İhlas Haber Ajansı, 2018a; İsce Hisar, 2017, which was a false positive result, where the report mentioned narcotics but the relevant suspect only had antiquities and firearms; Kayseri Olay, 2018).

I emphasise that these cases are drawn from the results of Greek-language and Turkish-language Google Web searches for coincidences of antiquities and narcotics, without regard for metal-detectors or firearms.

I also emphasise that these statistics reflect – if they reflect anything at all – multi-commodity trafficking or poly-trafficking of cultural goods alongside other commodities, not even antiquities trafficking in general, let alone treasure-hunting.

Around 38 of the 80 (so 48 per cent) explicitly mentioned the possession of firearms (in the form of weapons and/or ammunition) as well as suspected antiquities (which included potential forgeries) and narcotics. (Obviously, this suggests that 49 per cent of those who have antiquities and narcotics have firearms, not that 49 per cent of those who have antiquities have narcotics and firearms.)

Possession of firearms as well as antiquities and narcotics appears to be a regular feature across the region, if a somewhat greater problem in Turkey and northern Cyprus, where they constitute 15 of the 27 (so 56 per cent of) reports, than in Greece and southern Cyprus, where they constitute 23 of the 53 (so 43 per cent of) reports.

Seemingly, most of the (serendipitous finds of) coincidences of firearms as well as antiquities and narcotics suggest the use of force rather than the trade in weapons. Naturally, the potential for violent crime in antiquities trafficking is as important as (or more important than) the potential for antiquities trafficking in multi-commodity trafficking. It is only highlighted for clarity.

Around 11 of the 38 (so 32 per cent of) reports that mentioned suspected antiquities, narcotics and firearms explicitly mentioned metal-detectors as well. (Again, this suggests that 32 per cent of those who have antiquities, narcotics and firearms have metal-detectors, not that 32 per cent of those who have metal-detectors have antiquities, narcotics and firearms.)

Although it might simply be a misleading product of the small sample sizes, possession of metal-detectors as well antiquities, firearms and narcotics, appears to be more common in Greece and southern Cyprus than Turkey and northern Cyprus. Such cases constituted around 3 of the 15 (so 20 per cent of) Turkish-language reports and around 8 of the 27 (so 30 per cent of) Greek-language reports.

Possession of metal-detectors might indicate lower-level looting activity rather than higher-level trafficking activity. So, possession of antiquities, narcotics and firearms but not metal-detectors, which might indicate armed actors in higher-level trafficking activity, was reported in 19 of the 27 (so 70 per cent of) Greek-language cases and 12 of the 15 (so 80 per cent of) Turkish-language cases.

If commodities in Turkey and northern Cyprus are more often combined by traffickers who do not participate in extraction/production, if commodities in Greece and southern Cyprus are more often handled by extractor-producers to do a little bit of everything, this might hint at the existence of more organised crime in Turkey and northern Cyprus than Greece and southern Cyprus.

seizures versus arrests

Across 140 cases with 237 arrests plus 59 cases with suspects for violations of the law on antiquities in Greece between 23rd April 1999 and 31st March 2004, then Police Sergeant Konstantinos-Orfeas Sotiriou (2017a: 343) found that 5 per cent involved antiquities and narcotics, 14.28 per cent involved antiquities and weapons (mostly firearms) and 26.42 per cent involved organised cultural property crime, while 3.57 per cent involved antiquities and ‘fake documents such as fake passports and counterfeit money’ (Sotiriou, 2017a: 343).

[In an extended study of 246 cases with 372 arrests plus 117 cases with suspects between 23rd April 1999 and 6th May 2009, Sotiriou (2017b: 55) found that 3.65 per cent involved antiquities and narcotics, 26 per cent involved antiquities and weapons (mostly firearms) and 30 per cent involved organised cultural property crime, while 3.35 per cent involved antiquities and fake documents.]

While the legal distinction of organised crime is a technical matter that was typically beyond the scope of the initial news reports, the complementary data from this study appear to demonstrate the significance of the overlaps of the trafficking of narcotics and the handling of firearms with the trafficking of antiquities.

The differences in the data within and between the studies are curious, too. It is possible that violations of the laws on antiquities are simply difficult to prosecute (as, indeed, they are). It is possible that, if law enforcement agencies have evidence for firearms and narcotics, they do not “waste” their time on prosecutions for antiquities. Yet, if they only have evidence for firearms or narcotics, they go to the effort of prosecuting cultural property offences as well.

It is also possible that, as has been documented elsewhere, more criminals are handling multiple commodities now than before. However, all of these possibilities need further research and analysis.

not just serious crime, but organised crime

The reports document a range of activity, from seemingly disorganised crime to reportedly organised crime. Though the reports in this sample do not reflect the frequency with which such news seems to emerge overall, particularly in Turkey, they do include an example of organised crime networks or organised crime groups that involve serving or retired officials in law enforcement agencies, security forces and/or military forces (in Greece, e.g. to Vima, 2016; in Turkey, e.g. Anadolu Ajansı, 2018c, which was a false positive result, where the webpage mentioned narcotics but the reported suspect only had antiquities and firearms).

conflict antiquities and propaganda about cultural property crime

Curiously, the coincidence of uyuşturucu with eski eser identified (an inevitably hyperbolic version of) the truth about conflict antiquities in pre-war Syria in a Turkish nationalist text, which considered links between the Syrian Arab Republic and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê‎ (PKK)) that existed by 1984 and persisted until 1998.

Hafiz Assad’s brother, Rifad Assad, was the greatest organiser of smuggling of narcotics and antiquities in the Middle East. Syrian Military Intelligence Director Brigadier General Gazi Kenan undertook important tasks in this organisation. [Hafız Esad’ın kardeşi Rifad Esad, Ortadoğu’nun en büyük uyuşturucu ve eski eser kaçakçılığının organizatörüydü. Suriye Askeri İstihbarat Başkanı Tuğgeneral Gazi Kenan bu organizasyonda önemli görevler üstlendi.]

According to dissident Syrian journalist Yassin al-Haj Salih, Rifaat al-Assad (had) ‘enjoyed an almost complete monopoly over the illegal trade in Syrian antiquities’. (At least one Syrian human rights activist, lawyer Haytham al-Malih, had publicly accused Rifaat al-Assad of stealing antiquities from Hama before Manaz published his book.)

The search also identified a propagandistic statement by the former Minister for Family and Social Policies, current Mayor of Gaziantep, Fatma Şahin: ‘the most important thing that feeds terrorism is the trafficking of narcotics and antiquities [terörü besleyen en önemli şey uyuşturucu ve eski eser kaçakçılığıdır]’.

aside on churnalism and propaganda (and content-farming)

Complementing ongoing research in and outside this region, the results also included another Turkish nationalist text by the same journalist (and a seemingly-plagiarised section of another book by an alleged mass plagiarist content-producer).

It suggested that the ‘PKK, which organises the smuggling of antiquities together with narcotics, was [already long ago] earning 900 million dollars per year from the business that was done through Turkey and the Greek Zone of Southern Cyprus [Uyuşturucuyla birlikte tarihi eser kaçakçılığını da organize eden PKK, Türkiye ve Güney Kıbrıs Rum Kesimi üzerinden yaptığı ticaretle yılda yaklaşık 900 milyon dolar para kazanıyordu]’.

While there is at least some tentative evidence that the PKK is involved in the smuggling of antiquities through Turkey (e.g. DHA, 2006 [AR]; 2012 [AR]), which was documented before cultural property crime became a widespread target for propaganda, I have not found secure evidence that the PKK is organising the smuggling, let alone evidence that the PKK is organising the smuggling through the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, which is another target of Turkish nationalists.

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