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Italian customs police have discovered a long-lost Roman villa after breaking up a smuggling ring that was trying to steal artifacts from the ancient ruins. The villa is a new find and belonged to Emperor Caligula.
Italian police announced an impressive find on Tuesday, that stemmed from a rather routine beginning, after they stopped and searched a suspicious truck near Rome in January.
Customs police stopped the truck as it headed towards the port of Ostia, thirty miles southwest of the capital.
Onboard police discovered what appeared to be a Roman statue of Emperor Caligula.
The find sparked suspicion that smugglers could be raiding an archaeological site and led to months of surveillance by a specialized police unit.
The Emperor Caligula had a short and bloody history, ruling for only three years from AD 37-AD 41.
He was renowned for his cruelty, sexual perversion and extravagant villas that he built around Rome.
Eventually he was killed by officers of the Praetorian guard.
The investigation led the police to an illegal dig near the small lake of Nemi, some 18 miles south of Rome.
The dig was discovered to be one of Caligula's Imperial residences.
The whereabouts of the villa had been previously unknown.
At least 250 priceless artifacts have so far been discovered at the site.
The tomb raiders were believed to be arranging to ship their treasure to private buyers in northern Europe.