Three foreign nationals have been charged for their role in a massive counterfeiting operation following a 17-month-long undercover investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
“This extended undercover operation, which targeted one of the most significant sources of high-quality counterfeit U.S. currency in the world, is a compelling example of the fight against international crime,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, District of Massachusetts. “In partnership with the Peruvian National Police and the Dominican police, we are seeking to shut down the elusive counterfeiting organizations in those countries.”
The indictment, which was unsealed Monday, alleged that defendants Alonso Moises Zambrano Herrera, Karin Gizet Sanchez Fajardo and Ernesto Perez were engaged in conspiracies and transactions involving more than $2 million in high-quality counterfeit currency produced in Peru and the Dominican Republic. The counterfeit currency had many of the sophisticated security features of authentic U.S. currency, ICE said.
The defendants would then allegedly ship counterfeit U.S. currency into the United States by concealing the money in bindings of books, by sending couriers into the United States with counterfeit currency concealed in a photo album or by having counterfeit currency hand-delivered to cooperating witnesses in Peru and the Dominican Republic.
“This case illustrates the merging of traditional crimes such as counterfeiting with advanced technologies that criminals so often use to commit financial crimes today,” said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. “No matter how creative counterfeiters think they are, they will get caught, and they will be prosecuted.”
If convicted, Zambrano Herrera faces a maximum five years in prison on each conspiracy count and up to 20 years in prison on each counterfeiting count, to be followed by three years of supervised release and $1.75 million in fines. Fajardo faces up to five years in prison on each conspiracy count and up to 20 years on each counterfeiting and money laundering count, to be followed by supervised release for three years and up to $3.25 million in fines; and Perez faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count and up to 20 years in prison on each counterfeiting count, followed by three years of supervised release and $1.75 million in fines.
“Thanks to our strong partnership with Homeland Security Investigations, we were able to uncover and disrupt a counterfeiting scheme that spanned two continents,” said Steven Ricciardi, special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service. “I want to thank our partners at HSI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their tireless efforts and collaboration in this investigation.”