They dismantle a group in Tarragona that bought and produced drugs with counterfeit bills and that was dedicated to drug assaults

The Mossos d'Esquadra have dismantled a group in Tarragona that used counterfeit bills to buy drugs, produce marijuana and carry out narco-raids.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 March 2024 Sunday 22:51
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They dismantle a group in Tarragona that bought and produced drugs with counterfeit bills and that was dedicated to drug assaults

The Mossos d'Esquadra have dismantled a group in Tarragona that used counterfeit bills to buy drugs, produce marijuana and carry out narco-raids. The operation, in collaboration with the Civil Guard, resulted in ten detainees between the ages of 22 and 63, seven of whom were sent to prison.

This was explained by the head of the Central Currency Counterfeiting Unit of the Mossos, Sergi Sánchez, who explained that on March 13 the bodies carried out raids on homes in the Tarragona and Barcelona districts. In Móra la Nova (Ribera d'Ebre) a plantation of more than 162 kilos of marijuana was dismantled. Those arrested wanted to sell it in Europe with bills from an illegal printing press dismantled in September 2023 in Alicante.

The investigation began at the beginning of June 2023, when a Salou police officer detained two men while they were fleeing after allegedly being involved in a drug deal. During the search, they seized a total of 6,000 counterfeit euros in 500 bills. Money that the Mossos later attributed to an illegal printing press, which they dismantled in September in La Nuncia, in Alicante.

This printing press was financed by criminal organizations of Albanian origin, which were dedicated to printing counterfeit bills for the acquisition and production of drugs and who later came to different parts of Europe, especially Germany.

With the arrival of Covid-19, counterfeiters ran out of raw materials for the manufacture of banknotes, stopping their production. The Mossos intervened in September in an operation in which they arrested eleven people in the districts of Valencia, Alicante, Barcelona and Malaga. They also requisitioned all the machinery to print their bills.

Investigators estimate that while they were active, the counterfeiters printed an amount greater than 8 million euros, of which 6 have already been intercepted by agents. However, the remaining two million are still in circulation, and could currently be used for other economic activities, according to Sánchez. Furthermore, he added that they are bills that are "very well made" and that "it was very difficult to detect that they were counterfeit."

Almost nine months later, investigators obtained evidence of the existence of a criminal group that had a large amount of marijuana that was going to be transported to Europe. For this reason, they carried out seven entries and searches at homes in El Prat de Llobregat, Reus, Mont-roig del Camp, Móra la Nova and El Morell. In these searches, three short firearms, three stun guns, a badge, a drone, a fake police vest and GPS tracking devices were seized.

At the same time, the agents dismantled a plantation of 162 kilos of marijuana located in an industrial warehouse in the town of Móra la Nova. The drug was prepared to be transported and sold in northern Europe and its value was 970,000 euros.

The money with which it had been produced, according to the Mossos, was part of the same illegal printing press dismantled in Alicante last year. In this search, they also seized three short firearms, various materials to carry out narco-assaults such as police plates and rotaries, as well as tracking devices to attach to vehicles.

During the operation, in which more than 150 agents participated, ten people were arrested, eight of them of Albanian origin and two of Spanish origin. All were brought to justice, seven were imprisoned, two are free from charges and one is in a foreign detention center.

Regarding the differentiating elements of the group, the Mossos detailed that the gang made use of security and self-protection mechanisms, that they were experts in stealing vehicles and introducing systems to hide money, weapons or drugs, and that their nature was transnational. since the destination of the drugs was Europe. They also found that the members had a high standard of living and that they had high-end vehicles.

This is the first time, according to Sánchez, that they have encountered criminal organizations that finance printing presses to counterfeit money and use currency to make payments for large amounts of drugs, which "increases the risk in purchases and sales" among drug traffickers.

The detainees are charged with crimes of counterfeiting currency, drug trafficking, illicit possession of firearms, theft of motor vehicles, falsification of documents, fraud of electrical fluid and membership in a criminal group.