Detectives yesterday broke up a fake banknotes syndicate that preyed on unsuspecting taxi drivers and small shops in Kowloon. Officers from the police Commercial Crime Bureau also seized beef knives and a small quantity of the drug Ice yesterday when they launched early-morning raids at four locations, including a public housing flat at the Lok Wah Estate, where the fake notes were made. Sources said the syndicate was believed to have a triad background but said further investigation was required. Police seized 24 counterfeit notes in the operation - 23 fake $500 notes and one $100 note. The detectives are still investigating how many fake notes had entered circulation. Six core members of the gang, aged between 17 and 30, were arrested in yesterday's operation and police officers are tracking down two to three other members. The syndicate members used fake $500 notes to take short taxi rides or buy cheap items at shops, and collect genuine cash as change. The gang made their notes with inkjet printers and apart from $500 notes, also produced $100 and $50 notes. But police said the counterfeit notes were of poor quality and the gang's victims were either people with little time to check their authenticity or less alert shopkeepers. 'The quality of the notes is average at best, and even people who have limited knowledge about banknotes can distinguish them,' said Chief Inspector Michael Yu Shi-cheung. He believed it would be difficult for the gang to mass produce fake notes given the simple equipment available to them. According to police figures, the number of fake banknotes seized by the police last year fell sharply from 21,518 in 2004 to last year's 9,694. Most of these notes were of poor quality.