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Police in central China’s Hubei Province have bust a relic smuggling ring, recovering 198 ancient artifacts from the black market.

Police said the treasures were stolen and smuggled by gang members from Hubei to traders and collectors across the country.

Among them, eight artifacts are under China’s class-one relic protection. The two most precious items are bronzewares, respectively dating back to Spring and Autumn Period (722-476 BC) and Western Han Dynasty of more than 2,000 years ago.

Police arrested three leaders and 20 accomplices of the smuggling ring, which allegedly involved tomb raiding, relic thefts and smuggling.

Cai Guoxiu, deputy director of Suizhou Bureau of Public Security, said the case illustrated how rampant relic smuggling and trading is in the black market. Police hunted down the ring members in 20 prefectural-level areas in nine provinces. Read more.

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