The Lithuanian police have prevented almost counterfeit 50-euro notes, totalling €3.5 million, from entering circulation in the country and abroad.

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Counterfeit 50-euro notes
© DELFI (R. Achmedovo nuotr.)

"Arrests and searches were carried out in different cities of the country simultaneously. Europol officers were invited and provided help. The investigation was launched in 2015 when new fakes were spotted on the market following the introduction of the euro in Lithuania. These counterfeits were in circulation and were distributed in as many as 15 EU member states," Andzejus Roginskis, acting head of the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau, said at a news conference on Friday.

"I want to reassure people (...) that the fake euros have not reached the Lithuanian market," he added.

The police detained six Lithuanian nationals, some of them well-known to the authorities, and arrested three of them. More than 10 searches were conducted in their homes and cars.

Two printing shops were busted during the police operation on July 13. One of them printed poor quality euro notes and the other used laser printing equipment. The fake notes they had already printed were mostly distributed in Lithuania, Latvia and Germany.

Officers seized 50-euro note sheets totalling 3.5 million and 343 finished 50-euro notes worth €17,100, as well as printing equipment and holograms.

The Police Department said that a prosecutor from the Prosecutor General's Office and officers and experts from Europol, the Kaunas and Vilnius police and the Lithuanian Forensic Research Centre took part in the joint operation led by the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau.

Officers from the Lithuanian police anti-terrorism unit Aras stormed a fake euro printing shop in Kaunas back in November 2004. The persons involved in the money printing operations were arrested and convicted.

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