On 22 April 2016, the Bulgarian authorities, in close cooperation with Europol, dismantled an illegal workshop in the area of Pleven (Northern Bulgaria) which counterfeited 100 euro banknotes. This seizure of fake banknotes is one of Europe’s most significant in recent years on account of the quality of the forged notes detected in circulation in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
This operation was the result of an intense cooperation between Europol and the Bulgarian State Agency for National Security and Ministry of Interior. Criminal intelligence, gathered in different EU Member States and shared by Europol, led to the location in Pleven.
In this print shop, finished 100 euro banknotes ready for distribution were found as well as unfinished banknotes in different stages of production. Europol officials assisted the Bulgarian authorities during the examination of the printing equipment and counterfeits in order to gather as much evidence as possible. The following items were seized: printing presses, laser engraving machine, films, inks, hologram stickers and other printing equipment. A number of counterfeit identity documents were seized as well.
Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, said: “The global acceptance of the euro as a stable currency with low inflation makes it an attractive currency for counterfeiters. The information gathered during the raid and from the forensic analysis of the seized banknotes attests to the huge production potential of this criminal organisation, both in terms of quantities of counterfeited banknotes but also on account of their quality. I am pleased to see Bulgaria’s determined fight against organised crime and such operations are an important contribution to the protection of the euro.”
So far, 3 members of this organised crime group have been taken into custody.