Towards the end of May, Judge Antonio Fiorentino of Torre Annunziata Court sentenced a shipper of the Napoli Group to six years and eight months in prison. The convicted counterfeiter, a 34-year-old named Mario Martinelli, found himself in a “thrilling police chase” last year. Once caught, authorities found 136,000 in fake euros.
The Napoli Group, for those that missed the massive arrest last year, was one of the largest counterfeit euro sources in the world. At one point, they pumped out more than 90% of the fake euros in circulation. The organization consisted of 11—possibly 12—syndicates at the last reasonable count, scattered throughout Italy. The headquarters in 2014 was North of Naples in Giugliano.
Law enforcement first investigated the group in 2012 when their activities resembled those of the Camorra clan. Police later learned that the Napoli Group and Camorra clan were unrelated, but the initial connection appeared to set the police on the Napoli Group’s trail. One of the first places investigated was a syndicate in Caivano, a city roughly 15 miles from Naples.
Each syndicate had a specialty. Some printed counterfeit euros. These a consisted an individual generally considered to be one of the most skilled counterfeiters of his or her era. Some syndicates stored notes. Some trafficked the stolen notes from the printer to the storage. Some trafficked from storage to the shippers. And some handled the actual shipping of the fake euro notes.
Sometimes a syndicate completed multiple tasks at once. For instance, in December 2016, international police forces raided locations throughout Italy to catch the Napoli Group. (For some reason, even when the syndicates consisted of 50 or more defendants, police some as if they finished off the internationally known group). They caught eight members of a syndicate, and one member, Carmine Guerriero, was considered one of the best counterfeiters of all time.
They arrested him—the creator of the different notes. His shippers, Anna Sorrentino, Salvatore Caldarelli, Carmela Cavallaro, and Filomena Warrior. And three unnamed individuals with connections to the group’s counterfeit euro stash warehouse. That syndicate basically handled it all.
Mario Martinelli, according to Italian authorities, ran shipping for a syndicate. And the “shipping” dynamic evolved once the Napoli Group started selling on the darknet; some shippers were also drivers. Authorities never mentioned Martinelli’s destination but he presumably drove to and from a shipping location. However, if he handled the darknet orders, he likely contributed to the Napoli Group as a so-called leader, as many news outlets reported.
Officials announced that he carried, on the day of his arrest, the 136,000 euros in hard drives, fully prepared for shipment to Germany and Lithuania. Germany frequently saw the Napoli Group’s work, but so did Portugal, Malta, France, and numerous countries in Africa.
The notes, split into their denominations: 1,255 fake 100 euros notes, 145 fake 50 euro notes, and 180 fake 20 euro notes.
Martinelli received no convictions for obstructing the law—just for the counterfeit euros. Hey, prosecutors explained that the 34-year-old received a harsh sentence based partially on his past. He had a history of robbery and drug crimes. That being said, he carried a relatively more number of counterfeit euros compared to the 50 million worth in another recent raid.