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75 Arrested, 3,500 Artefacts Recovered in Art Smuggling Ring Bust

MADRID (AP) — Spanish police say 75 people have been arrested and more than 3,500 stolen artifacts and pieces of art seized in a joint operation with 17 other European countries that dismantled an international cultural goods trafficking ring.

Authorities said Sunday they had secured up to 500 archaeological objects alone in the southern Spanish town of Murcia, including 19 that were taken from the local archaeological museum in 2014.

The multi-national investigation started in October and the arrests were made the next month. It was led by investigators from Spain and Cyprus with support from 16 other countries, UNESCO and Interpol.

Authorities allege the ring mostly dealt with objects looted from countries affected by wars.

Spanish police did not say why they were announcing the operation two months after the arrests.

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