organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence

I’m delighted to say that my open-source research into organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence has been published in the open-access Antichistica of Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

Following on from a proof-of-concept study of using open-source data to identify participation in the illicit antiquities trade, an archaeological and historical study of destruction, theft and rescue of archaeological artefacts in Cyprus and a netnography of online social organisation of looting and trafficking of antiquities from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, this piece explores the history of Turkey-rooted organised crime, including the existence of politically-“protected criminals [Korunan suçlular]” who have served state interests.

It examines the development of the Turkish antiquities mafia over six decades, the functioning of a Turkish-Cypriot antiquities gang from the civil war through the foreign invasions into the occupation and the activities of a Turkish multi-commodity gang in and around the state.

It also traces connections between Mexican narcotraffickers who also handle cultural goods, Turkish ultranationalists who self-finance with narcotic substances and cultural goods and Turkish state-backed Syrian Turkmen jihadists, plus the operations of a Syrian Turkmen jihadist who served as a Turkish intelligence agent and who trafficked antiquities as well as arms.

Amongst these and other things, such as interactions of organised crime with political violence and the rule of law, it draws out evidence of women’s participation in cultural property crime.

Abstract

Whether it is because their existence is doubted, because their reality is known or because the evidence is piecemeal, poly-trafficking of cultural goods with other illicit commodities, the involvement of criminal organisations in the illicit trafficking of cultural goods and the involvement of violent political organisations in the illicit trafficking of cultural goods have typically been neglected. By focusing on Turkey, this study seeks to understand how organised cultural property crime has functioned, persisted and expanded to supply markets such as Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States as well; how criminal organisations have been connected with other criminal activity and political violence in Turkey, Cyprus and Syria; and how their connections may reach as far afield as Mexico.

Using open-source research to trace names, connections and activities, it explores organised criminals with political protection; an antiquities mafia that is rooted in Turkey; an antiquities gang that is rooted in Cyprus; a gang in and around the state in Turkey; and connections between organised crime in Mexico, criminally-financed political violence in Turkey and criminally-financed political violence in Syria. Thereby, it demonstrates the existence and functioning of transnational organised cultural property crime that spans West Asia, Europe and North America; it outlines a system of trafficking of narcotics with antiquities from Turkey and money-laundering of drug profits with cultural assets in the United Kingdom; and it documents a relationship between organised crime and state activity that taints markets, undermines the rule of law and endangers societies.

Citation

Hardy, S A. 2021: “Organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence”. In Traviglia, A, Milano, L, Tonghini, C and Giovanelli, R (Eds.). Stolen heritage: Multidisciplinary perspectives on illicit trafficking of cultural heritage in the EU and the MENA region, 115-155. Venice: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari. [pdf]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: