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Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
Mafia strikes gold in Crimea
An illegal trade in artefacts from ancient burial mounds is booming on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, with valuable items reportedly making their way to auction houses in the West.

According to a special report by Russian Public TV, archeologists searching for treasures in an area that was at the heart of the pre-Christian Scythian empire are regularly shadowed by the mafia's own well-trained and often dangerous prospectors.

Archeological dig
Archeologists flock to the Crimea each summer

Golden artefacts
They come in search of gold and other treasures

Sevastopol street traders
Sevastopol is a centre for the illegal antique trade

Illegal prospector
Illegal prospectors work with metal detectors

Acheologist with gun
Some archeologists have taken up arms for protection

Confiscated artefacts
Police recover hundreds of looted items each year

Confiscated artefact
The racket is valued at millions of dollars

Crimean jail
But artefact smugglers face at most 18 months in jail

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