Canadian police on Jan. 31 seized something they had been hunting for years: a printing press capable of making some of the most sophisticated counterfeit American $20 bills investigators had ever seen.
“Those very high quality counterfeit notes were virtually undetectable to the naked eye,” reads a Royal Canadian Mounted Police press release.
As part of a joint action with the U.S. Secret Service, the RCMP confiscated a press and enough specially watermarked paper to create more than $200 million worth of bogus American notes.
The investigation was called “project CRANIUM” and has been ongoing for many years. In 2012, a similar bust was made in which four suspects were arrested following a raid in the same area: Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
At the time, police seized around $950,000 in counterfeit US $20 bills. They also dismantled a laboratory used to add “finishing touches” such as serial numbers and holographic features to counterfeit notes, according to an earlier release.
“It’s highly sophisticated, no doubt about that,” said Sgt. Andre Bacon of the R.C.M.P., to CBC News.
Four of the individuals linked to the counterfeiting ring were indicted earlier on various charges related to possession of fake money.
In the last fiscal year, the U.S. Secret Service seized more than $80 million in fake money and arrested more than 2,000 people, the New York Times reported.