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Moroccan Police Arrest 6 People Trafficking Historical Objects

Morocco’s BNPJ has arrested six individuals conducting illegal excavation in Oujda and Touissit, Jerada Province.

Rabat- On a joint mission on Monday, the National Brigade of Judicial Police (BNPJ) and Oujda’s Prefectural Police Department arrested six individuals in connection with crimes of jewelry trafficking, including a mining company practising illegal mining and “trafficking historical objects.”

The police seized 128 ancient silver coins, 17 plastic bags filled with lead and copper, equipments used for excavating and melting objects, and a sum of MAD 359,700 that the suspects were in possession of, reported the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).

The suspects are currently undergoing police investigation.

According to law 22.80 on the protection and preservation of Morocco’s cultural heritage, including historical buildings, antiques, and inscriptions, researchers who wish to explore must request authorization at least six months in advance.

As for the excavation of archeological sites, Morocco’s Ministry of Culture and Communication stressed in September that researchers must request government permission before excavating archeological sites.

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Some individuals illegally excavated private property or state property in search of treasure or other materials of significant value, and they even vandalized historical sites.

In 2017, groups of “treasure hunters” vandalized Gantrat El Fellous and Dar Oum Sultan, two historical sites in the rural commune of Ait Sibern that lies between Rabat and Fez, according to national heritage management officials.

Gantrat El Fellous is a historic bridge and an architectural monument built by the Almohad Dynasty in the 12th century.