The largest counterfeit 2-euro coin workshop in Spain dismantled

by Lorraine Williamson
two-euro coins

Spanish National Police, Mossos d’Esquadra, and EUROPOL have jointly dismantled the largest counterfeit coin workshop in Spain. The investigation, which began in September 2018, uncovered a criminal organisation allegedly dedicated to the production and distribution of counterfeit two-euro coins.

The investigation initially focused on the central region of the country, indicating the involvement of an undetermined number of individuals. Between 2018 and 2021, several police operations were conducted revealing similar characteristics. This led investigators to believe that they were dealing with the same criminal organisation.

Two-euro coins seized

In September and October 2018, nearly €25,000 in counterfeit two-euro coins were seized. Subsequently, in July 2019, a raid was conducted on a warehouse in the municipality of Fuenlabrada, Madrid. The workshop had recently been dismantled. However, elements used in the production of counterfeit coins were found, directly related to those seized the previous year.

In the first months of 2020, nearly €34,000 in counterfeit two-euro coins of the same type were seized. In May 2021, the police received a tip-off from a Chinese citizen who had rented a premises to other Chinese nationals in Barcelona. There, Mossos d’Esquadra discovered about 20 boxes containing two-euro coin blanks, equipment for coin minting, and a large number of counterfeit two-euro coins.

Perpetrators of Chinese origin

The investigated criminal activity displayed several common characteristics. Firstly, the nationality of the perpetrators, who were of Chinese origin. Secondly, the modus operandi, which involved the perpetrators frequenting gaming arcades and casinos, where they would use the counterfeit coins in coin-operated machines. Finally, the counterfeit coins exhibited similar technical characteristics and high-quality finishes.

The investigation faced significant challenges due to the secretive nature of Chinese organisations, the virtually non-existent traceability of counterfeit metal currency, and the high mobility of the counterfeit coin workshops. The organisation members would produce the counterfeit coins in a short period. Once the production was complete, they would sell all the coins and move to another location. There, they would remain dormant until starting another production run.

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Routine alcohol checkpoint led to a discovery

In 2024, investigators learned of a police operation carried out in March by the Madrid Municipal Police. During a routine alcohol checkpoint, officers stopped a vehicle occupied by three Chinese citizens who were behaving suspiciously. A thorough search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a large quantity of two-euro coins distributed in 48 bags, with each containing 300 units. As a result, the three occupants were arrested. Additionally, more than 14,500 counterfeit two-euro coins and a cylindrical metallic element, identified as a “die holder” used in the minting process, were seized.

Subsequent police inquiries revealed that the arrested individuals frequented a town in the province of Toledo, where a warehouse suspected to be the production site of the seized coins was located.

In mid-April, police officers raided the warehouse, seizing the following items;

  • multiple dies for minting two-euro coins
  • die holders
  • 29,000 blanks for making counterfeit coins
  • two large hydraulic presses
  • three manual and electromechanical machines for edging the counterfeit coin
  • two precision scales
  • two compressors
  • a water pump

Additionally, numerous already minted coins and various mechanical and electrical spare parts for the seized machines were confiscated.

The operation resulted in the arrest of 10 Chinese nationals and the dismantling of the largest counterfeit two-euro coin workshop in Spain, and the most significant in Europe in the last decade.

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