A FLINTSHIRE man has been jailed after admitting his part in a multi-million pound counterfeit cash ring.
Ian Leslie Cole, 56, of Golftyn Lane, Northop was sentenced to six years in prison at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, after being branded the “facilitator” in the operation.
West Yorkshire Police, supported by officers from North Wales Police, raided Cole’s home and found more than £650,000 in fake cash, as well as part-printed notes and equipment which could be used in the production of counterfeit cash.
During the raid on May 20, officers also recovered a large quantity of Zeta paper which is used to make counterfeit currency and was capable of producing £4.8 million in fake notes.
The massive police operation began after counterfeit notes were found in circulation in Leeds in 2009.
On June 15, 2009, officers executed search warrants at addresses in the Bramley and Beeston areas of Leeds.
More than £5,000 in fake cash and a large amount of electrical equipment which could be used to create money was seized.
The investigation continued and following intelligence received, officers from West Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Group, supported by officers from Regional Roads Policing, stopped a Range Rover on the M62 near Saddleworth Moor on May 19 this year. Inside the car officers found more than £380,000 worth of counterfeit notes.
Cole was part of a four-man operation. He and the other three members of the gang have been jailed for a total of 35½ years.
Lee Mitchell, 39, of Swinnow Gardens, Bramley, was jailed for 12 years, Christopher Brooke, 29, of Greenside, Pudsey, was jailed for 12 years and John Hartley, 61, of Cheltenham Road, Bradford was sentenced to five and a half years behind bars.
Det Insp Warren Stevenson, of West Yorkshire Police’s Crime Division, said: “This was a complex investigation which spanned the country and has seen a multi-million pound counterfeiting operation closed down.
“Officers have been able to recover over a million pounds worth of counterfeit cash and part produced notes as well as the equipment used to create the money.
“This has prevented the notes circulating around the country and leaving residents and businesses with worthless cash.
“Each member of this organised crime gang had their own roles – Mitchell and Brooke had the skills and the knowledge to produce the cash, Cole was the facilitator and Hartley was the distributer.
“They were all driven by greed and were using the fake notes to fund their lifestyles.”
He added: “I hope these sentences send out a clear message to others who create or plan to create counterfeit cash. We will find you, close down your operation and put you before the courts.
“Counterfeit cash does affect the economy, especially local businesses that end up with cash which is worthless.
“As a result of what these men have done, law abiding citizens will have most certainly found themselves out of pocket.”
Victoria Cleland, head of the Notes Division at the Bank of England, said: “Maintaining the public’s trust in our bank notes is a key role for the bank and it is essential if the economy is to function properly.
“That is why we welcome this outcome because any counterfeit banknotes, however insignificant in number, might undermine that trust and often the victims of a counterfeiting crime are individuals who cannot afford to lose out.”
Watch police videos of the scene of the operation below.
See full story in the Leader