Police seized fake bank notes with a total face value of more than 214 million yuan ($33.2 million) after cracking the biggest counterfeiting case in the nation's modern history late last year, a senior police official said.
Lin Weixiong, deputy director general of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Public Security, said 14 suspects thought to belong to a criminal gang were detained while a large number of semifinished fake bills and printing equipment were seized after a production site and warehouse were raided.
"The case is regarded by the Ministry of Public Security as the country's largest counterfeiting case since the founding of New China in 1949," Lin said at a news conference on Tuesday in Guangzhou, the provincial capital.
Wu Yilai, deputy director of the provincial department's Economic Crime Investigation Bureau, said the busts were a heavy blow to counterfeiters.
"Guangdong comes first in terms of both the incidence and the clearance rate of counterfeiting cases in the country," Wu said.
"Big profits from counterfeiting have encouraged criminals to risk it," he added.
A fake bank note with a face value of 100 yuan now sells for 6 yuan, compared with only 2 to 3 yuan about 3 years ago, according to the officer in charge of the case.
The officer, who declined to be named, said a special task force was set up after police learned that a gang headed by a resident surnamed Hu had leased a warehouse as a printing facility in Zhongshan in March.
After several months of investigation, police raided the site in the second half of 2017, detaining five suspects in addition to Hu, 40, of Shanwei.
The clandestine workshop in Zhongshan's Shaxi township, of about 200 square meters, was equipped with sound-deadening equipment, the officer said. Plenty of partially finished bills, materials and equipment were seized, he said.
Police detained another eight suspects and seized a huge cache of fake bills at a warehouse in Shanwei at the same time. The suspects were negotiating the sale of their merchandise when police broke in.
None of the finished counterfeit bank notes had reached the public at the time of the busts, he added.
Police across Guangdong detained more than 15,000 suspects in 49 special operations launched in 2017.
Also seized were 16.4 metric tons of different kinds of drugs, 9,300 stolen mobile phones and other property.