News of yet another Italian victory in the struggle to combat the illicit art and antiquities market. Yesterday, Italian authorities announced that a cultural property trafficking ring has been uncovered. The two-year investigation centered on 35 individuals, and potential charges are likely to include both illegal possession as well as trafficking of archaeological artifacts. The recoveries include a renaissance still-life and marble altar pieces. The announcement evidences the continuing Italian efforts to combat the illicit trade in cultural property. The Italian efforts are garnering some impressive results, but one wonders if these efforts are just the tip of the iceberg, or represent a substantive blow to the illicit trade. Increasing the interdiction resources may be working, but I wonder if there are similarities between the cultural property black market and the illegal drug trade. Will other enterprising traffickers step in? I fear that they will, and the only real substantive change must be effected at the other end of the market, where the purchases take place.
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