BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombian authorities working with the U.S. Secret Service have captured 10 leaders of a counterfeiting ring that exported millions in fake currency from Colombia to the United States, the country's secret police said Wednesday.
Authorities here say the arrests shut down what had been the world's largest U.S.-dollar counterfeiting ring, sending more than $40 million in fake bills to the United States over the last two years.
The arrests came late Tuesday. More than 100 uncover agents in four cities in drug-producing southern Colombia arrested the men, thought to be the group's ringleaders, Colombia's Administrative Department of Security announced.
The arrests were the culmination of almost two years of investigation. The case began when Secret Service agents asked authorities here to look into a disproportionate amount of cash arriving in the United States from Colombia, said Miguel Evan Cure, director of the Cali office of the secret police force, known as DAS.
"This is an investigation that could not have succeeded without the help of the Secret Service," he said.
Cure said the counterfeiters began producing bogus $100 bills and exporting them to Miami, New York and other U.S. cities in late 1998. They are believed to have earned more than $11 million in profits selling and distributing the bills in the U.S. and Europe.
"This group was extremely well-connected and efficient," Cure said. "Their bills arrived in the U.S. and blended so well with regular currency there and in Europe that they became very hard to trace."
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