Two recent international police operations carried out in Bogotá, Colombia, have resulted in the dismantling of a counterfeit money print shop and depot. More than one million counterfeit US dollars and almost half a million counterfeit euros (face value) were seized.
The Colombian investigations, which were supported by Europol, Spanish police and the U.S. Secret Service, culminated in a first raid of an illegal print shop on 22 March, when one person was arrested and large quantities of counterfeit cash and production equipment were seized. In a second raid on a depot on 26 March, two further arrests were made and more counterfeits and machinery were confiscated. The counterfeiters’ intention was to smuggle the counterfeit euros to Europe via mail and also via couriers travelling by plane.
In total, these investigations have resulted in the Colombian police seizing:
- over 1 million U.S. dollars in 100 dollar bills
- nearly 500 000 euros in 50 and 100 euro denominations
- over 3 million Colombian pesos
- specialist printing and computer equipment, guillotine cutters, raw materials such as paper and inks.
Europol provided analytical, financial and forensic support to the investigation, with a Europol specialist present in Bogotá to examine seized currency and equipment. Europol has been actively supporting the dismantling of illegal print shops in Colombia since 2006 and, in that time, international police operations have resulted in the seizure of over 19 million euros in face value.
Previously, years of skilled apprenticeship and access to expensive professional printing equipment were a prerequisite for engaging in the production of counterfeit banknotes. But now there is an apparent shift by Colombian counterfeiters who have moved from traditional offset printing methods to digital production.