Turkish security forces on Tuesday seized 688 old coins that had been hidden in a refrigerator, in an anti-smuggling operation in Turkey's central province of Kayseri.
The security forces organizing the operation confiscated the historical coins, believed to date back to the Roman and Byzantine era, with a market value of TL 1 million ($72,590). A search of the house also revealed a pen gun, known as "assassination weapon," and 71 cartridges of the gun.
Security forces conducted a simultaneous operation at three addresses in the Talas and Melikgazi districts of Kayseri upon the information that smugglers were keeping historical artifacts in their homes and trying to take them abroad.
Two suspects were reportedly detained. While the suspects' proceedings at the police station continue, the seized historical artifacts will be handed over to the Museum Directorate.
Hundreds of anti-smuggling operations are carried out across Turkey every year to halt the illegal sale of historical objects and protect the country's rich cultural heritage. This issue is crucial to a country home to about 3,000 ancient cities from 42 civilizations and whose tourism industry relies on its rich historical heritage to attract millions of foreign visitors each year. Turkey also works to repatriate artifacts taken abroad decades ago by smugglers and last year, it brought back 3,480 artifacts home from various countries.