Group busted for printing $10 million in bogus $100 bills
MIAMI (AP) _ Undercover Secret Service agents smashed a Jamaican counterfeiting ring that printed more than $10 million in bogus, new-style $100 bills, according to a federal indictment.
``This is the single largest seizure of the new ’96 series to date,″ Jack Kippenberger, agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Miami office, said Thursday. ``There have been a few arrests but none on this scale.″
The phony bills were reproductions of the new $100 note introduced last year, designed to be harder to copy than the old bills. All of the fake money was recovered.
Kippenberger would not discuss details of the undercover investigation.
The indictment said they possessed engraving plates, negatives, photographs and prints used in a scheme that started in December.
The men met with an undercover Secret Service agent after flying from Jamaica to Miami on Feb. 21 to inspect a printing shop in Hialeah. After setting up shop, they used photographic negatives, provided by Winston Johnson, to make the necessary plates, the indictment said.
In three days, they had produced $10.1 million in fake $100 bills, complete with seals from the U.S. Treasury and serial numbers, and using anti-forgery printing techniques begun last year by the Federal Reserve.
Winston Johnson, 26, Wilbert Johnson, 26, Michael Bryan, 25, and Richard Creary, 25, all of Kingston, Jamaica, were indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on four counts of counterfeiting and one count of conspiracy.
They were held without bail. If convicted, they each face up to 75 years in prison.
About $406 billion in U.S. currency is circulating worldwide. Last year, the Secret Service identified $205.2 million worth of counterfeit bills, $1 million of which consisted of the new Franklin greenbacks.
``This arrest is really significant because of its size and because it involves the new $100 bills,″ said Wilfredo Fernandez, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami.