Spanish authorities, working with Europol, have dismantled a criminal group responsible for drug trafficking and distributing more than two million counterfeit euros in 20 EU countries. In total 25 people from the criminal group have been arrested.
This criminal group have been under investigation by the Spanish National Police since 2010, for drug trafficking and euro counterfeiting. In June 2011, Spanish authorities dismantled the first part of the criminal network when they seized 1.018 tonnes of cannabis and arrested 11 suspects. The investigations nevertheless continued, now focusing on euro counterfeiting.
Europol played an important role in the operation, as the European central office for the protection of the euro, by coordinating investigations among the countries affected by the activities of the counterfeiters. The main counterfeiter was the owner of a canned food distribution company, where the clandestine print shop was found. He used the company as a cover for the illicit print shop, where 50 euro notes were printed. The criminal group also imported fake 20, 50 and 100 euro notes from criminal counterparts in Italy, for further distribution around Europe.
In this part of the operation, 9 search warrants were carried out in different Spanish cities, 14 suspects were arrested and 1.5 million in counterfeit euro banknotes were seized, as well as materials for the mass production of more counterfeit euro notes. Machinery and tools to counterfeit Spanish identification documents were also found.
The investigation is ongoing and further arrests can be expected.