WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Antiquities Coalition today launched a Cultural Heritage Think Tank to explore innovative solutions to pressing challenges in cultural heritage, publishing the first in a new series of policy briefs by distinguished specialists from the public and private sectors. Attorney Ricardo A. St. Hilaire wrote the inaugural paper, " How to End Impunity for Antiquities Traffickers: Assemble a Cultural Heritage Crimes Prosecution Team" ( https://theantiquitiescoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/PolicyBrief1.pdf). It explores how the Department of Justice (DOJ) can take a leadership role in the global fight against cultural racketeering—the illicit antiquities trade—by appointing designated prosecutors to pursue criminal cases against smugglers, corrupt dealers, and their accomplices. St. Hilaire is an experienced litigator, former chief prosecutor, and former cultural property law professor, who authors the award-winning Cultural Heritage Lawyer Blog ( http://culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com). Cultural racketeering is one of the greatest threats now facing our world heritage. However, its consequences go far beyond preservation, to impact economics, foreign policy, and national security. Experts warn it has become a multi-billion dollar illegal industry that funds armed conflict and violent extremist organizations around the globe. But when compared to similar transnational crimes—from arms running, to drug smuggling, or even the illicit wildlife trade—there is still much we do not know. As the looting and smuggling of ancient treasures increases, especially across the Middle East and North Africa, the demand for strong scholarship is greater than ever. The Antiquities Coalition's think tank will meet this need by bringing high-quality, innovative, and results-oriented research to the world's policymakers. It aims to strengthen public understanding of the threats facing our shared heritage, and more importantly, develop better solutions to protect it. To achieve this goal, the think tank is drawing from a wide range of international experts as authors, from the fields of preservation, business, law, security, and technology.