Nicknamed Operation Achei, the investigation began in 2017, when extensive looting was discovered in the Calabria region of Italy. Illegal excavations using bulldozers and metal detectors had plundered the region’s Greek and Roman archeological sites. Southern Italy is home not only to important historical sites, but to some of Europe’s most effective organized crime.
This well-structured crime group was able to move tens of thousands of treasures from Italy to major European cities where they were set to be sold at auction. Unknowing buyers would have paid millions for some of the ill-gotten goods, only to have to potentially return them to Italian authorities if they were discovered.