An offset printing press used to manufacture counterfeit US$20 banknotes was seized by the RCMP and United States Secret Service on January 31, as part of a long-term investigation authorities have dubbed Project Cranium.
The seizure was made in the Trois-Rivières area of Quebec. According to a statement from the RCMP about the action, authorities had been looking for this offset press for several years. The police also confiscated what they describe as a large quantity of paper that could have been used by counterfeiters to manufacture anywhere from US$40 to US$200 million.
This January 31 operation to seize the press as part of Project Cranium follows in the wake of the May 2012 dismantling of a laboratory, also in Trois-Rivières, that was used to add finishing touches to counterfeit notes. The investigation at that time showed that the criminal organization had the capability to manufacture and to distribute worldwide millions of counterfeit US$20 banknotes.
The May 2012 operation, involving the RCMP, U.S. Secret Service and the Sûreté du Québec, arrested four suspects and raided six locations in the Trois-Rivières and Drummondville areas. The suspects were indicted on a variety of charges, including possession of counterfeit money, making counterfeit money and uttering counterfeit money.
During the May 2012 round up, the police seized $949,000 in counterfeit US$20 bank notes. They also uncovered a laboratory that was primarily used to add finishing touches to the banknotes, such as serial numbers and holographic features.
At the time, the police described these as very high-quality counterfeit notes that were virtually undetectable to the naked eye. Some of the features they had were noted as being uncommon in this criminal industry, including the type of paper used, that was especially made with a Jackson watermark and a dark vertical stripe, imitating the security thread found in authentic notes.