Printing shop for forged documents dismantled in Barcelona

08 October 2021
Press Release
Press Release/News

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Officers found almost 2 000 counterfeit passports and ID cards of 56 nationalities

Officers from the Spanish National Police (Polícia Nacional) and the Barcelona City Police Force (Guàrdia Urbana de Barcelona), supported by Europol, dismantled an organised crime group involved in property crime, facilitation of illegal immigration and document fraud.

Results from 28 July 2021

  • 3 locations searched 
  • 3 arrests 
  • Seizures: 
    • mobile devices
    • almost 2 000 forged passports and ID cards of 56 different nationalities
    • about € 13 000 in cash
    • notebook containing accounting records of the criminal activity (orders, prices, deliveries)
    • equipment for forging documents, including two printers, one machine for laminating and one scanner, a dedicated laptop, a press machine, tools to professionally cut the documents, UV inks, sprays, plastics with official security measures, kinegrams, chips for ID cards, needles and threads to sew passport booklets

11 000 fake ID documents were on their way 

The criminal network was involved in the counterfeiting and distribution of forged documents. It was also trafficking genuine documents, stolen in Spain. These were used by people with similar physical characteristics from Middle Eastern countries to facilitate their illegal entry into the EU.

During the action day in July, a raid in the house of the main suspect in Barcelona led to the dismantling of a printing shop for fake documents. He produced the fake documents with high-quality security features such as UV holograms. The investigation uncovered that he had ordered 1 000 similar features for the manufacturing of French ID documents and 10 000 for Spanish ID documents.

Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided analytical support. On the action day, Europol deployed a virtual command post to enable the real-time exchange of information and cross-checking of operational information against Europol’s databases to provide leads to investigators in the field. Europol also deployed an expert to Barcelona to provide technical support with data extraction and analysis of digital evidence.

The investigation was developed as part of EMPACT’s Joint Operational Team Doc Fraud to combat document fraud in the EU, targeting organised crime groups involved in the production of fakes and the trafficking of forged or illegally obtained documents.


In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 - 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Fraud and money laundering are two of the priorities for the Policy Cycle. From 2022, the mechanism becomes permanent under the name EMPACT 2022+.