Bulgarian police busts antique smuggling ring

SOFIA, Oct 25, 2007 (AFP) - Bulgarian police said Thursday, October 24th they had seized a huge cache of antique coins and other precious objects and arrested 13 people allegedly involved in an antique smuggling ring to the United States and Europe.

The interior ministry said in a statement that more than 15,000 coins, 400 glass, metal and ceramic dishes, and hundreds of other objects including antique jewellery, had been seized in the operation.

The exact value of the objects was still to be determined, but initial police estimates put it at tens of millions of euros (dollars).

A total of 13 people were arrested in the operation, including the head of the ring, the police said.

The objects may have been stolen from ancient sites such as Thracian burial mounds dating back to 400 BC, which are scattered all across Bulgaria, police said.

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