The Guardia Civil has carried out Operation Margarita-Kuskus in collaboration with Europol in Alicante, Valencia, Murcia, Málaga, Almería and Lugo provinces to smash a massive counterfeiting ring linked to the Calabrian mafia. They seized 150,000 euros in high-quality false 20- and 50-euro bank notes.
Twenty suspects belonging to the international criminal organisation known as the 'Ndrangheta' - a powerful and violent organised syndicate based in southern Italy and renowned for the extent of their activities abroad, were arrested.
One of the men detained was a Moroccan-Spaniard working in Torrevieja as a judicial interpreter, who has been charged with revealing secret information to the organisation about legal proceedings against its members.
Officers established that the ringleader lived in Torrevieja and that his direct collaborators were residing in Callosa del Segura.
At the end of October, the head of the organisation went to Italy to collect a significant shipment of counterfeit money. The Guardia Civil followed and intercepted him returning with two accomplices on the AP-7 motorway at Valencia. They discovered six bundles of fake 20-euro notes amounting to 20,000 euros hidden in the spare tyre of his vehicle.
The money was held in empty flats between Callosa del Segura and Redován before being distributed throughout Spain, Portugal and North Africa. The organisation had a network of collaborators that would buy the counterfeit cash at 30-40% of its face value. When the gang chiefs obtained their legal tender they would launder the money by buying property, vehicles and other goods, often in compatriots' names to avoid suspicion.