Lisbon, 09 Sep 2019 (Lusa) – The Judicial Police (PJ) has dismantled one of Europe’s largest counterfeit money chains, in an operation in which five people were arrested and more than 1,800 counterfeit 50 and 10 euro bank notes were seized.

In a statement, PJ explains that, through the National Anti-Corruption Unit and with the collaboration of EUROPOL, it dismantled the counterfeit  network, marketed through the so-called ‘darknet’, in an operation involving eight home and non-domestic searches.

In the “Deep Money” operation 1,833 counterfeit banknotes (1,290 banknotes of 50 € and 543 of 10 €), with a total of  €69,930 euros, as well as “various objects related to the production of banknotes, namely computers, printers, paper with security filament incorporation, holograms and self-adhesive holographic bands, ultraviolet inks and ink cartridges ”.

Five people, three men and two women, aged 26 to 63, were arrested for crimes of counterfeiting and criminal association. The leader of the criminal group was a Portuguese resident of Colombia, who was detained under an International Arrest Warrant.

The five detainees were in custody.

“This criminal network had been operating since at least the beginning of 2017 and was responsible for the production of over 26,000 notes, mostly from € 50,” says PJ.

This operation included other units of the Judicial Police, namely the National Unit to Combat Cybercrime and Technological Crime and the Scientific Police Laboratory.

Counterfeit banknotes were seized almost everywhere in Europe, with a higher incidence in France, Germany, Spain and Portugal, reaching a value of over €1.3 million.

“Counterfeit notes were advertised in one of darknet’s main markets, with orders received either through private messages on that market or through encrypted chat platforms,” PJ said in the statement, adding that after payment, as a rule, made through virtual currency, “the notes were sent by post from Portugal, where they were being produced”.

“The high quality of the notes produced by this criminal network was recognized by all buyers, based on the use of security paper incorporating security filament, holograms and self-adhesive holographic bands, ultraviolet inks, watermark and sweet cut,” he explains. .

The alleged leader of this criminal group, a Portuguese citizen residing in Colombia since mid-2018 and with a history of various crimes, was arrested there under an International Arrest Warrant issued by the Portuguese authorities following close cooperation with the Colombian authorities. .

“In recent days, the Colombian authorities have expelled them from the country, having been detained by the Judiciary Police, already in the national territory,” adds the PJ.

PJ says it will provide further clarification on the 11:30 operation at the Judiciary Police headquarters in Lisbon.