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Counterfeiter Sentenced to Prison

March 19, 2002

MIAMI (AP) _ A Colombian counterfeiter believed to have printed $42 million in fake U.S. currency since 1986 was sentenced Tuesday to nearly five years in prison for his role in two smaller seizures.

Ramiro Sepulveda Duque pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a total of $3.7 million in counterfeit currency seized in Colombia in 1998 and 2000.

Sepulveda, 55, told U.S. agents he started making false documents and Colombian lottery tickets in the 1970s and switched to currency in the 1980s. He is believed to have printed as much as $42 million in fake U.S. currency during his career, the Secret Service said.

``He is an artist, and unfortunately ... an artist doing illegal contraband,″ said Frank Estrada, head of the Secret Service office in Miami. ``He does a very good job, and he’s been involved with it for a few years.″

He was brought to Miami in July after being arrested in Ecuador.

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