When Raiding Chinese Tombs, Feng Shui Helps
Police bust the China's biggest black-market antiquities ring
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2015 1:33 PM CDT
Stock image.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Police in China say they've busted the biggest antiquities trafficking ring in the country's history with the arrest of 175 people and the discovery of more than 1,100 artifacts worth $80 million, reports the BBC. Most are thought to have been dug up illegally around ruins going back more than 5,000 years in Liaoning province. Gangs of criminals allegedly were helped by archaeologists who clued them in on where to dig, but the New York Times notes that one prime suspect apparently used his expertise in feng shui to divine likely spots.

The "master tomb raider" identified only as Yao "was able to look at a site and determine the best place to dig for loot by applying feng shui, traditional principles of geomancy," writes the Times, summing up a report in the Beijing Times. Less mystical types used metal detectors. One of the recovered artifacts is a jade pig dragon, described by the BBC as "one of the earliest known depictions of the mythological creature." A local archaeologist who found it admitted selling it to a collector for $520,000 so he could buy houses for himself and his parents.