Colombia Seizes $5 Million in Fake US Bills

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Officials seized some $5.7 million in fake dollars in central Colombia, calling attention to the country’s counterfeit currency trade.

The seizure took place in Pereira, capital of Risaralda province, reported EFE. The cash, printed in 100-dollar bills, was reportedly meant for distribution in Colombian cities. No arrests were reported.

Authorities also recently dismantled a factory in Medellin, Antioquia, that produced some $85,000 in fake bills, as well as pirated books.

Colombia was once the world’s top producer of fake dollars, responsible for some 43 percent of the world’s counterfeit supply. However, Colombia was surpassed by Peru circa 2009.

InSight Crime Analysis

Much of the counterfeit business was once based in the southwest city of Cali, where forgers worked in sophisticated factories and workshops. Recent seizures in Colombia’s coffee-growing heartland, including Risaralda and Medellin, are an indication that the business may have been displaced from its traditional home in the southwest Pacific.

While the business of counterfeiting money usually benefits organized criminal groups, who use the fake currency to fund their business activities, the forgery rings themselves are usually independent operations made up of experts, who do not work exclusively for any single organization.

The industry is not restricted to dollars and Colombian pesos. On Friday, authorities announced the dismantling of two counterfeit currency production centers in Bogota which also produced euros and British pounds. The operation was carried out in collaboration with Interpol, and 14 people were arrested.

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