Peruvian Police seized nearly $12,000 in fake dollar bills at the border with Ecuador, underscoring Peru's position as the world's leading manufacturer of counterfeit dollars.
The seizure was the result of a police intelligence operation which had tracked the money from Lima, reported Correo. The package containing the bills arrived at the border by bus and was to be picked up by a 68-year-old man, who was detained by police. The man claimed he had no knowledge of its contents, and that he was paid approximately $20 by a group of Ecuadoreans to pick up the package and then deliver it to them at a prearranged meeting spot.
Officers waited at the meeting point to detain the Ecuadoreans, but they never arrived.
Police believe the counterfeit bills belonged to an Ecuadorean mafia group that prints the false bills in southern Peru, reported RPP.
In 2012, Peru surpassed Colombia to become the largest producer of fake bills in the world, responsible for 17 percent of fake bank notes in the United States, according to US authorities. A US-led crackdown on counterfeiting in Colombia is believed to be partly responsible for the increase in Peru, which lacks strong anti-fraud forces and anti-counterfeiting laws.
Counterfeiting groups in Peru mostly rely on sophisticated operations that use offset printers, a traditional printing technique, to produce large batches of high quality fake banknotes, reported Time. Most of the operations uncovered by police are in Lima.
Criminal groups in Peru also specialize in fake euro notes, as well as Venezuelan bolivares fuertes and Chilean and Bolivian pesos, which gives them the freedom to switch currencies if one currency is the target of anti-counterfeiting measures. In July 2012, members of the Quispe Rodriguez crime clan were arrested with $2 million in counterfeit dollars and 1.5 million in fake euros, reported the Peruvian Times.
This latest seizure would seem to suggest Peruvian counterfeit dollars are not only destined for the United States but also for the considerably closer market in Ecuador, where the US dollar is the official currency.