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The Antiquities Coalition Hosts Brigadier General Fabrizio Parrulli, Commander of the Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage

July 31, 2018

The General’s Visit Marks a Growing Multilateral Effort to Combat Cultural Racketeering


Washington, D.C., July 31, 2018 — The Antiquities Coalition will host Brigadier General Fabrizio Parrulli of the Italian Carabinieri the week of July 30 in Washington, D.C. His visit follows a major bust of an international crime ring by the Carabinieri and other European law enforcement that spanned four countries, targeted dozens of suspected criminals, and lead to the seizure of $47 million in stolen art.

Brigadier General Parrulli heads the Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale (“Carabinieri PCT”), the world’s leading law enforcement team fighting the illicit trade in antiquities or cultural racketeering.

The purpose of General Parrulli’s visit is to raise awareness about the illicit trade of ancient art and antiquities, what actions Italy has taken in building partnerships to address this issue, and what remains to be done in the fight against this cultural racketeering.

On August 1, the Smithsonian will host General Parrulli in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Richard Kurin, Director of the Freer-Sackler Galleries and the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, and joined by Deborah Lehr, founder of the Antiquities Coalition, for a public discussion at the Freer Gallery of Art.

Dr. Kurin will interview Gen. Parrulli and Ms. Lehr about the importance of multilateral coordination in protecting cultural heritage and future objectives in contributing to art market transparency as well as ongoing challenges to curbing the trade in conflict antiquities. The General will also discuss will review the Carabinieri’s work, including his experiences with cultural heritage protection in Baghdad and work with the “Blue Helmets of Culture” in Iraq

On August 2, experts from the diplomatic, policy, governmental, and cultural heritage preservation sectors will convene at a closed-door roundtable discussion hosted by the Antiquities Coalition and the Middle East Institute.

The Carabinieri’s recent sting, Operation Demetra, saw simultaneous operations in the Italian regions of Sicily, Calabria, Piedmont, and Apulia, along with houses in London, Barcelona, and Ehningen, Germany. over 25,000 archeological items, worth $47 million were seized. To date, forty-one suspects have been detained.

The Carabinieri TPC spearheaded this international effort carried out with support from authorities in Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom, all supported by Europol. Art and antiquities are particularly vulnerable to both money laundering and terrorist financing, and Italy has led the fight against art market exploitation for criminal activities.

About the Antiquities Coalition 

To protect our shared heritage and global security, the Antiquities Coalition is leading the international campaign against cultural racketeering, the illicit trade in ancient art and artifacts. We champion better law and policy, foster diplomatic cooperation, and advance proven solutions with public and private partners worldwide. We are working toward a future when the past is preserved for the next generation, not looted, smuggled, and sold to finance crime, conflict, and terror. Learn more at

About the Carabinieri TPC

Founded in 1969, and largely regarded as the preeminent leader in combating the destruction of cultural heritage, the Carabinieri TPC works to combat theft, illegal excavations of archaeological sites, and trafficking and counterfeiting of stolen property. To date, the Carabinieri TPC has investigated over 35,000 individuals and detained over 1,000. The organization also maintains a database of paramount importance that stores millions of images and files relating to stolen artifacts. The Carabinieri TPC is also instrumental in providing training for judges, prosecutors, police, customs officials, and experts both in Italy and abroad.

Emily Benson, Program Associate
The Antiquities Coalition