A federal indictment unsealed this week, charges three foreign nationals in a sophisticated counterfeiting operation uncovered through a 17-month undercover operation, spanning two continents. The charges are the results of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Secret Service.
Alonso Moises Zambrano Herrera, 46, a Peruvian national operating out of the Dominican Republic was arraigned today on charges of counterfeiting and smuggling, and will be in custody pending trial. Zambrano Herrera has been charged along with Karin Gixet Sanchez Fajardo, aka Karucha, 28, a Peruvian national operating out of Lima, Peru; and Ernesto Perez Ferrera, 48, a Dominican national operating out of the Dominican Republic, in a 25-count felony indictment arising from a series of related sales of counterfeit U.S. currency in Peru and the Dominican Republic.
“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 M. 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.”
“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 M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. “No matter how creative counterfeiters think they are, they will get caught, and they will get prosecuted. In conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service, HSI will continue to aggressively pursue those who internationally manufacture, smuggle and try to pass counterfeit currency in the U.S. to the fullest extent of the law.”
“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 D. 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.”
At a detention hearing on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal, the government presented evidence that Zambrano Herrera was expelled from the Dominican Republic and arrested upon his arrival in Boston June 1, 2012. Dominican authorities expelled Zambrano Herrera from that country after he coordinated the delivery of $100,000 in counterfeit U.S. currency to an undercover federal agent posing as an American cocaine dealer in search of cheap cash.
In a coordinated law enforcement effort in Peru, the Peruvian National Police, at the request of U.S. authorities, arrested Fajardo in Lima, Peru late on June 8. The U.S. attorney’s office, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, has formally sought Fajardo’s extradition from Peru to face charges brought by the federal grand jury in Boston. Fajardo is being held in custody in Peru. A federal arrest warrant is outstanding for Perez; he remains at large.
The 45-page indictment, which was unsealed on Monday, alleges that the three defendants were engaged in related conspiracies and transactions involving more than $2 million in high-quality counterfeit currency being produced in Peru and the Dominican Republic. Samples of the counterfeit currency revealed that it had many of the sophisticated security features of genuine U.S. currency.
It is alleged that during the course of the investigation, one or more of the defendants shipped counterfeit U.S. currency into the United States concealed in the bindings of books; sent a courier into the United States carrying nearly $60,000 in counterfeit currency concealed in a photo album; and hand-delivered more than $100,000 in counterfeit currency to a cooperating witness in Peru and the Dominican Republic. At a hearing on Monday, the government presented evidence that Zambrano Herrera arranged for the delivery of an additional $100,000 to an undercover agent in Santo Domingo May 31, 2012, just prior to his arrest by Dominican authorities.
The indictment also alleges that Fajardo’s co-conspirators in Peru agreed to sell the cooperating witness and undercover agent $2 million in counterfeit currency.
Zambrano Herrera stands charged with two counts of conspiring to deal in counterfeit currency and smuggling, and five related counterfeiting and smuggling counts. Fajardo has been charged with two counts of conspiring to deal in counterfeit currency and smuggling, three counts of counterfeiting, and eight counts of money laundering. Perez is charged with one count of conspiring to deal in counterfeit currency and smuggling, and six counts of counterfeiting and smuggling.
If convicted, Zambrano Herrera faces up to five years in prison on each conspiracy count and up to 20 years imprisonment on each counterfeiting count, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a total of $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 three years of supervised release 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 imprisonment on each counterfeiting count, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a total of $1.75 million in fines.
SOURCE: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)