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Polish police nab gang spreading fake euros across EU

Warsaw — Polish police have broken up a criminal gang that spread forged 50 and 100 euro banknotes across the European Union, notably in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, authorities said Wednesday.

The criminal ring is suspected of having put tens of thousands of fake euros into circulation across the 27-nation bloc.

A total of 32 suspects were detained in the operation, which was conducted after a year-long probe hand in hand with Europol, the EU’s police agency.

"Police took advantage of the Easter holidays to prepare for and carry out the arrests," national police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski told AFP.

Sokolowski said that the head of the gang, whom he identified only as Radoslaw B., 29, came from Poland but also had an address in Italy.

The vast majority of those arrested were Polish citizens, but a Romanian woman was also detained, prosecutor Beata Syk-Jankowska told AFP.

Most have already been charged and have admitted their guilt. They risk up to 10 years in prison.

Twenty-five of the suspects were snared in their homes during simultaneous raids in 30 locations in Poland’s eastern Lublin province Tuesday. The dragnet involved 300 police officers and members of the national anti-terrorist squad.

Two other individuals turned themselves in, five were detained earlier, and more arrests are in the cards, Syk-Jankowska said.

"The gang members, particularly those in their twenties, travelled abroad and met with other members of the network who gave them forged notes," she explained.

"They used these notes in shops and then brought the change they received back to the gang leaders, in return for a payment," she added.

Sokolowski said that police had not yet located the print-shop where the forged euros were turned out.

"We’re working on that. It’s outside Poland, in another EU member state," he said, refusing to elaborate because the probe was still under way.