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Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 11:08 GMT
Colombia dollar factory cracked
counterfeiting factory
The factory had been dug into the side of a mountain
A joint operation by Colombian police and the US secret service has raided a massive counterfeiting laboratory capable of churning out $3m in fake bills every week.

It was only after undercover agents infiltrated the counterfeiting ring that Colombian police and US secret service agents found the underground printing factory buried in the side of the Andes mountains, in western Colombia.


This unfortunately, is a national talent, because these are self-trained counterfeiters who produce with a great degree of perfection

General Alfonso Arrellano
In the laboratory they found a printing press and all the necessary materials to produce $100, $50 and $20 bills.

Colombian police General Alfonso Arellano, estimated the criminal network had been operating for up to 10 years and that in that time it could have produced anything up to a billion dollars' worth of fakes.

Second found

The raid was the result of almost two years' investigative work by 100 Colombian police backed up by US secret service agents.

This is the second such counterfeiting ring to be exposed this year.


Ten Colombians were arrested in August and accused of producing up to $40m worth of bogus money.

The find highlights a problem in a country known more for drug trafficking.

According to the US embassy 30% of counterfeit money circulating in the United States is from Colombia.

Some $22m in Colombian-made fake dollars has been seized in the United States since 1985.

"This unfortunately, is a national talent, because these are self-trained counterfeiters who produce with a great degree of perfection," said National Police General Alfonso Arrellano.

Journalists flown to the site saw $3m in bogus bills lying in stacks on the table in a room dug out of mountains near Versalles.

Bills were found hanging by clips from string stretched across the small room.

Police said that most of the money was destined for neighbouring Ecuador, which officially switched to the dollar in September as the country's official currency.

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18 Mar 98 | Sci/Tech
Dollar counterfeit danger
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