POLICE caught three metal detector enthusiasts digging up pieces from an Iberian-Roman archaeological site in Gergal.
A patrol from the Environment and Heritage Protection Group of the Police Unit Assigned to the Andalucia Autonomous Community in Almeria surprised the trio prospecting for finds with the metal detectors and using other tools to excavate without any kind of authorisation.
Officers found the three had gathered some 70 pieces, including coins, brooches, and other items of archaeological interest.
Police also seized the detectors, radio equipment, torches, materials to clean the pieces which were dug up and other materials related to the illegal activities.
The three have been charged with breaking an article of the Andalucia Historic Heritage Law, which only allows the controlled use of metal detectors without impacting on historic heritage.
In addition, a regional government Culture and Historic Heritage Territorial Delegation archaeologist inspected the Gergal site to evaluate the damage.
Earlier this year police seized nearly 500 items considered of archaeological interest and with no documentation to show their legal origin which a Roquetas de Mar metal detector enthusiast found.
Fines for breaking the Andalucia Historic Heritage Law can be as much as €200,000.