Croatia: Counterfeit Euro Operation Halted

Croatian National Police dismantled a counterfeit currency print shop, seized over $US230,000 worth of counterfeit Euro notes, and arrested 18 members of an organized crime group on Tuesday, according to a press release by Europol.

The arrests in Zagreb took a dangerous turn when a suspect threatened to use a grenade; police successfully disarmed the man before the weapon detonated. No police officers were injured. Over 150 police officers were involved in five Croatian cities, with the actual print shop located in Bjelovar, a city 40 miles east of the Croatian capital.

Police seized 3,600 counterfeit 50 Euro bills and counterfeit note production equipment. Sixty-three uncut pages of 50 British pound notes were also seized. The raids apprehended every member of the organized crime group “from the top down,” according to Europol. The counterfeit currency printed by the crime group circulated in multiple EU member states, and was detected in Austria, Italy and Slovenia.

In December 2012, the agency helped dismantle a similar print shop in Peru. Counterfeit notes were 4.4 million euros and 4.4 million dollars were seized. That operation was conducted by Peruvian police, Europol and the US Secret Service. In February, Europol aided in a similar operation in Portugal, where $38,000 worth of counterfeit Euro bills were recovered and five were arrested. Printers, stamping dies, holograms, and inks used for counterfeiting were also confiscated.