With the support of European Union police agency Europol, the Croatian National police dismantled an illegal currency print-shop on March 26 and arrested 18 suspects belonging to a domestic organised crime group involved in the production and distribution of counterfeit 50 euro banknotes, Europol said on March 27.
The operation began in October 2012 and during the March 26 operation 150 police officers were active in five different cities – Bjelovar, Cakovec, Koprivnica, Varazdin and Zagreb. The actual print shop was located in Bjelovar.
The operation became very dramatic when one of the suspects in Zagreb threatened the police with a hand grenade, Europol said. Police overpowered the suspect before the grenade was dropped and no one was injured.
With the arrest of the suspects, the entire organised criminal group was disrupted from top the top down, Europol said.
During the raids, all the equipment for the production of notes was seized, as well as 3600 counterfeit 50 euro banknotes (180.000 euro) and 63 pages of uncut, 50 British (sterling) banknotes were seized.
The distribution of these counterfeits reached an international level and were detected in EU countries such as Austria, Italy and Slovenia. The March 26 operation was supported by two Europol officials on the spot, and Europol has also supported the investigation during operational meetings and via analysis and co-ordination from its headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Europol is the EU’s central office for combating euro counterfeiting.