ITALY

With mass arrests, police take on counterfeiters

Italian police have arrested close to 100 people throughout the country in a bid to dismantle a vast network of counterfeiters who were producing fake euro notes. Police said they seized counterfeit bills worth an estimated €1.23 million.

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AFP - Italian police have dismantled a vast network of fraudsters who have been making counterfeit euros with the arrest of almost 100 people across the country, an officer told AFP on Wednesday.

"We arrested 94 people in Italy, in 16 of the country's 20 regions," said Colonel Carlo Pieroni, police spokesman in Calabria in southern Italy.

He said the counterfeiters had also been operating in other European countries including Germany, Spain, Lithuania and France.

Two people had been arrested in Spain last year as part of the investigation into the counterfeiting, he added.

Italian police said they had seized 1.23 million euros (1.6 million dollars) of counterfeit notes.

"This investigation began as a probe into drug trafficking and it led us to discover the counterfeit network. They made notes in denominations of 20, 50 and 100 euros of a good quality as well as one and two euro coins," Pieroni said.

Some 700 police officers took part in the operation which involved 150 searches. They uncovered four laboratories where the fake bills and coins were made.

Some of counterfeit money made its way into the illegal drug trade and was found in Latin America, Pieroni said.

This crackdown on counterfeit euros came the day after Italian police announced the dismantling of a network making fake Algerian dinars worth about 3.5 million euros, which was operating near Naples.
 

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