Police, in collaboration with the Fine Arts Department, have arrested three suspects involved in looting artifacts from multiple archaeological sites. Approximately 1,000 pieces – some over a millennium old – were seized in a coordinated operation.
The investigation exposed a two-tiered gang specializing in this illegal trade—one group responsible for excavating and another for selling the items. The relics, which include bronze sculptures, tattoo kits, silver coins, cowrie shells and jewelry, were sold through Facebook posts.
Undercover police had previously purchased items from the suspects and submitted them to the Fine Arts Department for verification. Once confirmed as historical artifacts, arrest warrants were issued, leading to raids at nine locations across Chiang Mai, Lampang, Phayao and Sukhothai.
The suspects have been charged with the illegal possession and sale of historical artifacts, and police are continuing their investigation to identify additional perpetrators.
Fine Arts Department Director-General Phanombut Chantharachot is urging the public to report any suspected historical artifacts to the Ministry of Culture or the Fine Arts Department. Discoverers will be compensated with one-third of the artifact’s value after verification.
The department will also partner with police to raise awareness about the importance of preserving Thailand’s cultural heritage and the laws that protect it.