Part of the press head found at the Mushroom Farm, showing edge lettered blanks and a die with a one-pound obverse face.
In 2000 Essex Police Crime Squad were following up a number of leads on suspected drug dealers. These lead them to premises on a small industrial site that had been previously used as a mushroom farm. When they raided these premises they found five men and an illegal "mint". The five men had been able to view the police approaching the premises with an elaborate CCTV system but did not have a method of escape.
The illegal "mint" contained a coining press, a number of coin dies, a machine for edge lettering coin blanks, and a number of machines for cleaning coin blanks and coins. There were about 25,000 counterfeit one-pound coins and 15,000 one-pound sized coin blanks on the premises. Some were in various stages of the manufacturing cycle and the remainder were in cardboard boxes. One of the boxes of counterfeit coins was on a modern weighing scales. Presumably each box was provided to the next link in the distribution chain containing a set weight of counterfeit coins.
Both the edge lettering tools found at the "Mushroom Farm" had the "DECUS ET TUTAMEN +" lettering. Amongst the obverse dies found were year dates 1993, 1996 and 1997. The reverse dies found included the United Kingdom "Ensigns Amorial", the Northern Irish "Celtic Cross" and "Flax Plant", and the Scottish "Lion" reverses. The counterfeit coins found were of the class NP described elsewhere in these files.
The five men were arrested, mostly pleaded guilty to and were convicted of a variety of offences in 2001. There was no large scale trial and thus very little publicity given to the case.
The operation appeared to consist of the men receiving coin blanks in cardboard boxes, cleaning them, edge lettering them, perhaps cleaning then again, striking them in a hydraulic press and packing into cardboard boxes for despatch. The blanks, coinage dies and edge lettering tools appeared to have been produced elsewhere. This fits a similar pattern to that seen in the Marcus Glindon case in 2007.
Copyright Robert Matthews 2008
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This page was last updated in April 2008