Thailand Seizes Antiquities Traded on Facebook

Published: 06 September 2023

Thailand CIB ArtifactsThailand's Central Investigation Police (CIB) and the Fine Arts Department present results of an operation targeting illegal antiquities trade on Facebook. (Photo: CIB/Facebook, License).

By Lieth Carrillo

Thailand's Central Investigation Police (CIB) seized approximately 1,000 art artifacts and antiques on Tuesday and detained three people accused of illicit excavation and trading in antiquities.

Following a tip from an antique preservation club, investigators targeted nine locations across four provinces in a joint CIB and the country’s Fine Arts Department operation, resulting in the apprehension of the defendants and the seizure of metal scanners and other tools used to discover and excavate items at archaeological sites.

According to the Bangkok Post, some of the artifacts originated from regions in China and India that were once under Siamese authority.

The Thai authorities said that the unlawfully obtained antiques, which included a 1,600-year-old bull sculpture and a 15th-century bronze elephant with a seal-imprinted platform, as well as porcelain utensils, tattoo needles, ancient coins, and jewelry, were advertised for sale on Facebook.

Investigators reportedly discovered more than US$280,000 in illegally sold antiques on Facebook in the last three years when checking the suspects’ bank accounts.

Following the discovery of Facebook pages selling the antiques, officers approached the individuals in order to reclaim the valuable ancient artifacts.

“This successful operation highlights the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage and enforcing laws related to archaeological sites and artifacts. It ensures the preservation of valuable historical and cultural assets for future generations while deterring illegal activities that threaten our heritage,” read the statement.