Law enforcement authorities have shut down a large money-printing workshop producing counterfeit U.S. dollars and Russian rubles in the Dagestan republic, police said Monday.
The Interior Ministry's economic security department described the workshop as "the largest laboratory of fake U.S. dollars in Russia in recent years" in comments carried by Interfax.
During a large-scale operation that began in January and proceeded in several stages, police have confiscated printing equipment and fake banknotes worth more than $400,000, an unidentified ministry official told the news agency.
In July, police also seized 3.5 million rubles ($111,000) in fake bills and arrested three suspects. Later, Federal Security Service officials and riot police discovered an additional 500,000 fake rubles, ammunition and weapons.
In early November, police arrested an unidentified suspect in Dagestan and confiscated printing equipment, ink and 1,000 sheets of paper for manufacturing $100 bills. Police officers also came across equipment for manufacturing 1,000 ruble notes, the official told Interfax.
Investigators, who are still searching for the remaining members of the counterfeiting ring, have opened a criminal case on charges of manufacturing, storing, transporting and selling counterfeit money, which carries a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.
Speaking to The Moscow Times in 2003, an anti-counterfeiting official with the Interior Ministry said that about 30 percent of all fake dollars seized in Russia were domestically manufactured in Chechnya and other regions of the North Caucasus.
The official said the fake bills were mainly used to pay off soldiers and buy food. Otherwise, they were transported to major Russian cities for wholesale.