Two Spaniards arrested over smuggling of artifacts looted by ISIS

Spanish police have arrested two men for allegedly smuggling pieces of art looted by groups affiliated with ISIS from...

Posted: Mar 29, 2018 2:26 PM
Updated: Mar 29, 2018 2:26 PM

Spanish police have arrested two men for allegedly smuggling pieces of art looted by groups affiliated with ISIS from sites in Libya.

Authorities there believe this to be the first ever police operation against the financing of terrorism through the looting of art.

The suspects, both 31-year-old Spanish nationals, are art experts who bought the pieces -- known in the market as "blood antiquities" -- to sell in their gallery, according to a police statement Wednesday that did not specify where the gallery was located. Police named them only as Mr. O.C.P and Mr. J.B.P.

They were arrested in Barcelona for their "alleged participation in the crimes of financing terrorism, belonging to a criminal organization, trading in stolen goods, smuggling and forging documents."

The statement said that the suspects were part of a Catalonia-based network with international reach dedicated to the retail of artworks from territories controlled by groups affiliated to ISIS.

The two men used foreign intermediaries to acquire the artworks, and concealed the origin of the goods by dispatching them from Asia and different parts of the Middle East, police said.

After searching five locations, including storage facilities and the gallery where some looted pieces were on sale to the public, police recovered artworks including sculptures, mosaics and sarcophagi.

With the help of the Libyan authorities, police verified the authenticity of the pieces and traced their origin to the Apollonia and Cyrene archaeological sites in northern Libya, both of which have been looted by terrorist groups.

Some of the recovered pieces showed imperfections such as bumps and dents that suggested they had been extracted from the ground violently and transported insecurely, police said.

Police believe the suspects carried out restoration work on the artworks in Spain in an attempt to disguise the damage.

Members of ISIS have destroyed or looted a number of ancient cultural treasures in Syria and Iraq, often posting videos of their vandalism online.

In 2015, the FBI asked art collectors and dealers to look out for antiquities that could have been put on the market by ISIS.

The warning came after "credible reports" that some Americans had been offered cultural items that seemed to have been taken from Syria and Iraq, according to a statement at the time from Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, who was then manager of the FBI's Art Theft Program.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2012806

Reported Deaths: 51732
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings26711410025
Queens2656739604
Suffolk1945123323
Nassau1782353121
Bronx1760716405
New York1330424342
Westchester1262782246
Erie835241718
Richmond713901760
Monroe617161036
Orange46388782
Rockland45849946
Onondaga36254663
Dutchess28147438
Albany23800347
Oneida21556498
Niagara18486335
Broome17559348
Saratoga14517163
Ulster13159244
Schenectady12471193
Rensselaer10745136
Putnam1027491
Chautauqua8459137
Chemung7209133
Oswego703490
Ontario693992
Steuben6355142
St. Lawrence624695
Sullivan621070
Cayuga591590
Jefferson548765
Wayne530467
Cattaraugus521382
Genesee5102121
Herkimer4946107
Clinton458233
Madison432186
Fulton412288
Tompkins407749
Livingston403858
Montgomery3923117
Columbia3848100
Cortland356960
Tioga345058
Warren341856
Wyoming328251
Otsego322147
Allegany320483
Greene315674
Chenango313874
Washington287955
Orleans280183
Lewis248134
Franklin241312
Delaware219537
Seneca188956
Schoharie156816
Essex150826
Yates111226
Schuyler99314
Hamilton3012
Unassigned13864
Out of NY0218
Rome
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 26°
Binghamton
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 19°
Rome
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 26°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 26°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Enter the Rock Your Body Giveaway from Alivana Aesthetics
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!