On 30 May and 1 June 2011, in the framework of an investigation initiated by the Belgian Federal Police of the Mons Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and supported by the local Police in La Louviere, the Belgian Royal Monnaie, the Belgian National Central Office (OCRFM) and Europol, two illegal euro mint-shops were dismantled and an organised criminal group active in the distribution of forged euro banknotes and coins was disrupted.
The suspects of Italian and Belgian origin, acting with others from Naples and Puglia, were arrested after they had established two industrial-size illegal mint-shops in Cuesmes and Pieton, Belgium, in which they produced counterfeit euro coins. In addition to the illegal mints, devices and material used to produce counterfeit one euro and 50 cent euro coins such as dies and blanks, as well as finished coins were found. Several firearms were also seized during the operation.
"This seizure is the first of this type in Belgium" a Belgian Police spokesman said today. "This organisation is linked to Italian Mafia, Neapolitan Camorra, and has been deeply involved for several years in the distribution and production of counterfeit currency."
French Police were also involved in this operation, following the arrest of a suspect in France in September 2010 through whom links to the Belgian investigation were established.
The investigation also revealed the delivery of counterfeit euro banknotes with a total face value of about 60 000 euros. Technical examinations of the seized banknotes by Europol specialists identified them as being linked to an investigation conducted by Italian law enforcement and other international partners.
"Once again we have seen that successful international cooperation can impact heavily on organised crime. We have seen several recent successes in the field of euro counterfeiting, all of which have resulted from such cooperation. Europol continues to support national law enforcement agencies with our intelligence and technical capabilities which enable such effective intervention," said Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.