The Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service detained members of a huge counterfeiting ring responsible for producing and distributing over 40 million rubles ($1.3 million) a month in counterfeit bills, police said Tuesday.
Apart from Russian rubles, the counterfeiters also produced fake U.S. dollars and euros — a currency that counterfeiters had never before attempted to forge in Russia.
The detentions marked the end of a security operation that began in July in Dagestan and was carried out by the Interior Ministry's main directorate for economic security in conjunction with police from the Southern Federal District, the North Caucasus Federal District and the Moscow region.
Police moved the operation to the Moscow region after five of the network's members were found in Dagestan with counterfeiting equipment, firearms and ammunition. In Moscow, the Interior Ministry and FSB officers detained a 40-year-old Armenian and 29-year-old from Dagestan for distributing 500,000 rubles in counterfeit bills.
The fake bills were distributed across Russia, and some of the bills even turned up in Belarus and Ukraine. Part of the money also went toward the financing of criminal groups in the North Caucasus, RBC reported, citing the Interior Ministry.
The criminal enterprise reportedly began in October 2011.
A criminal case has been opened on charges of manufacturing, storing, transporting or distributing counterfeit money or counterfeit securities, which carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 1 million rubles.
Seven suspected members of the criminal ring have been detained. The investigation is ongoing.