The Portuguese Judiciary Police (PJ) dismantled one of Europe’s largest counterfeit currency networks in an operation in which five people were arrested and over 1,800 counterfeit 50 and 10 euros banknotes were seized, Portuguese Lusa News Agency reported on Monday.
The operation, a collaboration between the PJ, through the National Anti-Corruption Unit and EUROPOL, dismantled the counterfeit currency network, marketed through the so-called “darknet”.
According to a statement issued by PJ and quoted by Lusa, Deep Money (the operation’s name code) seized 1,833 counterfeit banknotes (1,290 50 euros banknotes and 543 10 euros banknotes), as well as “various objects related to the production of banknotes”.
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 International Arrest Warrant.
According to the PJ, the network had been operating since at least the beginning of 2017 and was responsible for the production of over 26,000 notes, mostly of 50 euros.
“Counterfeit notes were advertised in one of darknet’s main markets, with orders received either through private messages on the market or through encrypted chat platforms”, the police said in the statement, adding that after payment (made through virtual currency), the notes were sent by post from Portugal, where they were being produced.