What began as a random traffic stop last month revealed an elaborate criminal network and the most sophisticated counterfeit credit card operation city police say they have ever seen.

Four people are charged — three women in their early 20s and a 31-year-old man — after police searched a vehicle and later raided a home on 100 Avenue and 117 Street.

“This is a huge production. I have never seen a setup like this to make cards from scratch,” Det. Bob Gauthier said yesterday, waving his hand over a long table full of printers, rolls of multi-coloured foil, and cards in various stages of completion.

Police say they’ve shut down the hub of what they believe is an organized crime network, which stretches across western Canada.

The fakes, which are practically flawless to the untrained eye, include credit cards, points club cards, health care cards, gift cards and out-of-province driver’s licences.

In total, police seized over 1,000 cards, counterfeiting equipment, electronics and methamphetamine.

“They could keep pumping out these cards until they got caught. A person who might be a meth head at the bottom of the rung might get pegged,” he said, adding he usually sees a connection with the drug in economic crimes.

“Meth keeps you up,” he said. “You can stay awake and make these things forever on it.”

Credit card data to encode on the magnetic strips, he added, was stolen from various stores.

Operations like these are too advanced for people to keep from becoming victims, Gauthier said, adding the best protection is to keep a close eye on financial statements.

“As soon as some new technology comes out, the bad guys are on it right away,” he said.

“It’s a huge problem out there, and it’s getting worse. We don’t have the manpower to combat it.”