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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 August 2005, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Fake invite lures counterfeiters
Two yachts
Guests came bearing gifts to the fictional yacht wedding
US authorities have lured dozens of people suspected of being involved in an international smuggling ring into custody by inviting them to a wedding.

The lavish nuptial celebrations were to take place on a vast yacht moored off the New Jersey coast in Atlantic City.

But instead of being taken onto the boat the guests, many of whom came bearing gifts, were arrested.

The charges relate to an international ring smuggling fake dollars, weapons, drugs and cigarettes into the US.

The FBI invited the suspects to a fake wedding between two undercover agents.

Expensive gifts

"Invitations were sent out, a date was given and RSVPs were received from different points around the world," US attorney Christopher J Christie said.

Forty two guests dressed in formal wedding attire were arrested as they arrived at the venue on the day of the wedding.

"One guest even brought a pair of presidential Rolex watches," Mr Christie said.

Police said the sting, part of an operation codenamed Smoking Dragon, resulted in the indictment of 87 Asians and US citizens.

Some $4.4m (2.4m) in fake $100 bills, vast numbers of Viagra pills and more than 1 billion counterfeit cigarettes made in China were seized as part of the operation.

The goods were smuggled into ports in the New Jersey area before travelling around the country.

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