The Judiciary Police dismantled what it considers to be one of Europe's largest counterfeit currency networks during Operation Deep Money. The network used darknet to advertise fake notes and orders were received either by private messages, on the same network, or through encrypted chat platforms, it said in the statement. After making their payment, usually through cryptocurrency, the notes were sent by post from Portugal, the country where they were being produced.
The operation, which involved the National Anti-Corruption Unit in collaboration with Europol, as well as the participation of the Anti-Crime, Technological Crime and Scientific Police Laboratory, led to eight home and non-home searches.
A total of 1,833 counterfeit banknotes were seized, of which 1,290 euros 50 and 543 10 euros, totaling 69,930 euros. Several devices used in the banknote production process were also found, such as computers, printers, security filament paper, holograms and self-adhesive holographic bands, as well as ultraviolet ink and inks, among others.
The search process led to the arrest of five people, three of whom were men and two women, aged 26 to 63, suspected of counterfeiting and criminal association. According to PJ, the criminal network has been operating since at least early 2017, having produced over 26,000 banknotes, most of them 50 euros.
Counterfeit money spread throughout most of Europe, but with a greater impact on French, German, Spanish and Portuguese soil, with an estimated value of over 1.3 million euro of seized banknotes.
The Judiciary Police recognized the high quality of banknotes produced by the network, using security paper with security filament incorporation, holograms, self-adhesive holographic bands, ultraviolet inks, watermark and sweet cut. The alleged leader of the group is a Portuguese citizen, resident in Colombia, since mid-2018, with a history of other crimes. The suspect was arrested in Colombia through an international arrest warrant issued by the Portuguese authorities in collaboration with the Colombian authorities.
The five suspects arrested were found to be defendants and are in custody for the first judicial interrogation and enforcement measures.