A massive international sting operation spanning 103 countries has recovered thousands of stolen artworks and artifacts. Some 19,000 stolen artworks and antiquities have been recovered by Interpol and the World Customs Organization. The two operations carried out last fall, resulted in the arrest of 101 suspects and 300 new investigations across 103 countries.
In my opinion, I think drug trafficking and murder is much worse than stealing artifacts. Firstly, drug trafficking, murder, and attempted murder can actually kill people or permanently damage their bodies, like having to live in a hospital for the rest of your life.
However, for stealing artifacts, they can’t physically harm anyone. Stolen artifacts may not help historians discover and learn about the culture and languages of an old civilization, but it can’t kill or harm them in any form.
In addition, stealing artifacts from countries, unless you’re thinking about the 1600s (400 years ago), it’s a lot harder to erase a country’s history. I doubt that half of the people on earth didn’t even know that this massive sting operation was happening; people were probably just living their daily lives and kids were probably all going to school and learning their language.
Nowadays, if you steal artwork from a museum, the news spreads like wildfire all over the world. This will certainly create political and diplomatic tensions across the country or even the world. We do not live in the 17th century, where you can randomly start a war, conquer countries, and steal random artifacts because there are so many documents preventing conflicts and wars after World War.
For these reasons, I personally think that drug trafficking and murder are more likely to create permanent damage to someone than stealing artifacts. Because, nowadays, it is way harder to steal all the artworks from a country and erase their history or commit any permanent damage to their history than 400 years ago when people just discovered that continents existed.