U.S. Secret Service Nabs Two Men, $8 Million In Counterfeit BillsANDREW MANGAN , Associated Press
Apr. 27, 1985 4:24 PM ET
MIAMI (AP) _ U.S. Secret Service agents arrested two ''international counterfeiters'' and seized about $8 million in bogus currency at an apartment complex near the agency's headquarters, officials said Saturday.
''They indicated that the quality of their notes is usually much better, but that they were unfamiliar with the American equipment,'' said agent Ronald J. Szego.
Along with the thick stacks of unfinished $100 bills, agents confiscated 80 offset printing plates and a like number of negatives used to make the phony money, said Szego.
Also found during the Friday night raid at the complex within view of the agency's office on the outskirts of the city were several negatives ''bearing the impression of counterfeit Colombian Pesos,'' and three higher-quality phony British 20-pound notes, said Szego.
Szego said Miami is one of the biggest counterfeiting centers in the country.
''In Miami, you are talking about one of the top passing areas in the U.S., equaling New York and Los Angeles,'' he said. ''About $75,000 in counterfeit currency passes through South Florida each month.''
Arrested were Christobal Roberto Saradetch, 42, a Guatemalan citizen living in Highgate, England, who gave his occupation as marine surveyor, and Uri Paz, 44, of Rishon-Le-Zion, Israel, who told authorities he works as a journalist and printer, said Szego.
Szego said the two men are known as international counterfeiters, and Paz is reported to have been involved in making counterfeit currency in South America, Europe and the United States for the past 20 years.
About two weeks ago, Saradetch flew from England and Paz from Bogota, Colombia, and they met in Miami, where they set up a printing operation to make counterfeit notes for distribution in South America, Szego said.
''Unfortunately for the two, the purchasers of the notes were undercover Secret Service agents,'' Szego said.
Szego said Saradetch and Paz offered to sell the $8 million lot to his agents for approximately $500,000 in genuine money.
The Secret Service was tipped off to the operation, Szego said, adding that a Dade County print shop had cooperated with the agency in its investigation.
''These were taken right off the press,'' Szego said, pointing to a table stacked high with yellowish $100 bills. ''At best, I'd say the quality is fair.''
He said counterfeiters usually include a finishing process, such as soaking the bills in tea or coffee, to give them an aged look.
The unfinished notes were made using a relatively simple offset printing process, similar to that employed by most American newspapers, Szego said.
The two men were scheduled to go before a federal magistrate Monday, Szego said. Counterfeiting carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison per count, he added.