On 4 March, AFP reported about 44 ancient coin smugglers arrested by Greek police and they also recovered thousands of ancient coins. In the operation by over 200 police officers who raided 55 buildings in 13 prefectures, mainly in northern Greece, police has found 8,000 coins of all forms, mainly bronze, and dating from the 6th century BC to the Byzantine period. They also recovered many priceless antiquities including wooden icons dating from the Byzantine period, three golden objects and a plethora of jewellery, as well as 19 metal detectors.
A 66 year-old man believed to be the mastermind was also arrested. The 66-year-old received the artifacts and after evaluating them, put them on sale in foreign countries through a network he had developed. The man, a retired customs employee, frequently visited Bulgaria, Germany, Switzerland and Britain. He and two brothers, daughter in law and a relative will act as a group leaders while the other 39 people will be doing certain job in several places in Greece.
Fox News reported, the most valuable coin confiscated, is a silver coin from the era of Alexander the Great (4th century B.C.) in which Alexander is depicted as an eagle on one side, while the other shows his father and predecessor as King of Macedonia, Philip II.
Greece, rich in archaeological heritage, has been targeted by illegal antiques traders for decades. Over 70 items were stolen last month from the Ancient Olympic Games museum in Olympia when two masked men knocked out the alarm and then overpowered the building's sole female guard when she arrived for her shift. A month earlier, thieves had broken into the Athens National Gallery and stole a painting personally gifted by Spanish-born master Pablo Picasso to Greece, in addition to two other artworks.