Iran, Interpol on trail of gang leaders smuggling Jiroft artifacts

6/14/2005 6:35:56 AM

TEHRAN, June 13 (MNA) -- The Iranian Intelligence Ministry in cooperation with Interpol has begun a wide range of operations to arrest the leaders of gangs smuggling ancient artifacts from Jiroft.

The chief judge of Jiroft Court said on Monday that ten gang leaders who were smuggling the artifacts to the United Arab Emirates and Britain have so far been identified.

“Their files and photos are now available at Interpol headquarters, and two of them have been sentenced to death by the Jiroft Court for their violations of national law,” Dadkhoda Salari added.

After a wide range of illegal excavations at the historical site of Jiroft over the past two years and the smuggling of many artifacts, serious measures were taken by the Jiroft Court, the Intelligence Ministry, and Interpol to identify the smugglers and retrieve the artifacts from international auctions, he said, adding, “Over 120 relics have so far been returned to the country.

“No new report of smuggling has been announced in the past three months.”

Jiroft, located in Kerman Province, is one of the richest historical areas in the world, with ruins and artifacts dating back to the third millennium BC and with over 100 historical sites located along the approximately 400 kilometers of the Halil Rud riverbank.

Many Iranian and foreign experts see the findings in Jiroft as signs of a civilization as great as Sumer and ancient Mesopotamia. Some believe that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratta, which was described as a great civilization in a Sumerian clay inscription.

Numerous ancient ruins and artifacts of Jiroft have been excavated by archaeologists, and also by smugglers unfortunately, over the past three years.