AN international smuggling ring has been smashed after a plundered Arab statue was auctioned at Christie’s of London.

Police swooped to arrest four people after the ornate column base – which was stolen from Medina Azahara, near Cordoba – was sold for 150,000 euros.

The ring was also linked to a number of other thefts from around the region.

The treasures recovered dated from the first to fifth centuries and included Roman mosaics, Neolithic axes and Arabic coins.

An Interpol-coordinated swoop saw the arrest of a Belgian antique expert, in Marbella, who authenticated the stolen artifacts before passing them abroad.

Three other dealers were arrested in Aguilar de la Frontera and Ronda.