Men jailed after police op uncovers £1m in fake notes

Image caption, Police said the men had the potential to produce £4.8m in fake notes

Four men have been jailed after counterfeit bank notes worth more than £1m were uncovered by police.

The men, from Leeds, Bradford and Northop, Flintshire, pleaded guilty to offences under the Forgery and Counterfeit Act 1981.

Their sentences, handed down at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday, ranged from 12 years to five-and-a-half years.

West Yorkshire Police said they believed the men had the potential to produce £4.8m in fake notes.

They were arrested after the force executed a number of search warrants at addresses in West Yorkshire and Wales.

Lee Mitchell, 39, of Swinnow Gardens, Bramley, and Christopher Brooke, 29, of Greenside, Pudsey, each received 12-year sentences.

John Hartley, 61, of Cheltenham Road, Bradford, was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Ian Cole, 56, of Golftyn Lane, Northop, received a six-year jail term.

Police started an investigation after counterfeit notes were found circulating in Leeds last year.

On 19 May 2009 the force said it found more than £380,000 in counterfeit notes when a Range Rover was stopped on the M62, and Hartley was arrested.

'Complex investigation'

Further inquiries led them to Cole's home where they found more than £650,000 in counterfeit notes, part-printed notes and equipment which could be used to produce fake money.

They also found a large quantity of paper used to make counterfeit currency.

Det Insp Warren Stevenson of West Yorkshire Police, said: "This was a complex investigation which spanned the country.

"Officers have been able to recover more than 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 distributor.

"They were all driven by greed and used the fake notes to fund their lifestyles."

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