U.S. authorities seize millions in counterfeit goods from smuggling ring


The Associated Press

NEWARK, New Jersey- In the weeks since U.S. authorities said they smashed a smuggling ring that brought counterfeit cash, cigarettes, and drugs into the United States, additional raids have netted $5 million (euro4.01 million) more in fake cigarettes and $2 million (euro1.6 million) more in counterfeit currency.

Operation Royal Charm, in which 87 Asians and U.S. citizens were arrested in mid-August, netted millions of dollars in counterfeit cigarettes and money, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the drug ecstasy, methamphetamines and Viagra, officials said.

Since the arrests, authorities seized an additional $1.8 million (euro1.44 million) worth of cigarettes in southern New Jersey on Aug. 21, followed by a seizure of $2.7 million (euro2.16 million) worth of cigarettes the next day at Port Elizabeth, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On Aug. 23, approximately $2 million (euro1.6 million) in counterfeit U.S. currency, commonly referred to as "super notes," were seized by Taiwanese and American authorities in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, authorities said.

And on Aug. 24, more cigarettes worth more than $500,000 (euro400,545) were seized in northern New Jersey.

Some of the arrests were made when alleged smugglers expected to attend a lavish wedding aboard a yacht in Atlantic City but were instead transported into the hands of federal agents.

At the time of the arrests, officials said some of the cigarettes were made in China and the money appeared to have been produced in North Korea. The arrests initially uncovered $4.4 million (euro3.52 million) in high-quality fake $100 (euro80.11) bills, more than 1 billion counterfeit cigarettes worth $42 million (euro33.65 million), and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the drug ecstasy, methamphetamines and Viagra, officials said.

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