SPANISH authorities have dismantled a criminal group responsible for drug trafficking and distributing more than two million counterfeit euros in 20 EU countries.
Fourteen people were in Villena, Campello, Guardamar del Segura, Denia, Cartagena, Murcia and Vigo. 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 notes were printed. The criminal group also imported fake €20, €50 and €100 notes from organized crime syndicates 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. In total 25 people from the criminal group have been arrested, according to Europol.
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 a tonne 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.
By John Jackson