Case Law Database

Trafficking in cultural property


• Illicit excavation
• Trafficking in cultural property
• Illegal import/export
• Looting of archaeological sites


• Illicit import/export
• Archaeological site
• Looting and pillaging
• Clandestine/unlawful excavation
• Seizure and confiscation

Dacian Treasure Case

Fact Summary

On December 17, 2014, the High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania sentenced 11 defendants for criminal association and aggravated theft of cultural property, to sentences cumulating 45 years of imprisonment. The court found that between May 2000 and May 2001, the defendants who were associated in a criminal group carried out detections and unauthorized excavations in the archaeological site Sarmizegetusa Regia, classified as a World Heritage  monument. The criminal group stole two hoards containing 15 spiraling gold bracelets (about 15 Kg), which they illegally exported and sold in auction houses in Europe and the USA.

Sentence Date:

Cross-Cutting Issues


... for

• completed offence

... based on

• criminal intention

... as involves

• principal offender(s)



• occurred across one (or more) international borders (transnationally)
• involved an organized criminal group (Article 2(a) CTOC)

Involved Countries

United States of America




Procedural Information

Legal System:
Civil Law
Latest Court Ruling:
High Court
Type of Proceeding:

A major focus of interest for poachers are the sites of Dacian citadels and of Roman military camps from the area of the Orăştie Mountains, located in the counties of Hunedoara and Alba, and those from other counties together with Greek citadels such as Tulcea, Constanţa, Caraş-Severin etc. Such sites have often been targeted by teams of poachers who engaged in unauthorized detections and diggings and stole thousands of objects. Thieves are particularly interested in monetary treasures, jewelry, funeral artifacts, guns and military equipment (swords, helmets, shields, clasps etc.).  
The investigations carried out in the European judicial space from 2005 to 2015 resulted in the recovery, through international assistance requests, of 13 wanted Dacian bracelets (12.663 Kg), pertaining to 4 different hoards, from New York, Zurich, Paris, Munich, Hunedoara – Romania.
A series of other hoards stolen from the Romanian sites during the same period were internationally pursued by INTERPOL:
-hoard of 1000-3000 Kosongold coins stolen in 1993-2004 from the archeological spot “Dealul Bodii”; hoard of  5.000 and 6.000 roman coins denarii stolen in 2001-2004 from the same spot; 1200 Kosongold coins stolen in 2007 from the archeological spot Dealul Muncelului of which 1.024 coins were recovered in Orăştie, Romania, UK, Belgium, Germany etc. and deposited at the Romanian National History Museum;
-hoard consisting of 3600 Lysimach, Pharnakes II and Asander gold coins stolen in August 1998 from the archeological spot Şesu Căprăreţei, of which 34 pieces were recovered in London (UK), Romania, Germany;
-hoard consisting of 2300 Koson silver coins, stolen in 2004 from the archeological spot “Dealul Bodii” of which 252 pieces were identified in Vienna, London, Munich, Chicago recovered and deposited at the Romanian National Museum of History;
-hoard of 7-8 iron shields stolen in 2002 from the Dacian fortress from Piatra Roşie, of which 2 were recovered in New York and deposited at the Romanian National Museum of History;
-2 bronze tabulae containing the laws of the municipium Troesmis stolen in 2002 from the archeological site of this fortress, recovered to an auction house in London UK and repatriated to Romania.


Defendants / Respondents in the first instance


The 11 defendants were sentenced to 45 years imprisonment for criminal association (mainly unauthorized excavations) and aggravated theft of cultural property.


High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania