News and Press Releases


March 9, 2011
CONTACT:  Patrick Crosby
FAX (404)581-6160

            ATLANTA, GA - JOSE ELIAS TAPIA, 38, of Chesterfield, Virginia, was arraigned today on federal charges of attempting to smuggle 199 counterfeit $100 bills into the United States from Peru.  TAPIA was arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge C. Christopher Hagy.  TAPIA had previously been released on bond.

            “Counterfeit currency harms our economy as a whole as well as the individuals and businesses that are tricked into accepting it,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “In January, a watchful Border Patrol officer in the Atlanta airport intercepted nearly 200 examples of a particular counterfeit $100 federal reserve note that has plagued this country in recent years, preventing them from being introduced into our community.”

            “Investigating counterfeit United States currency has been a core federal violation for the United States Secret Service for nearly 150 years.  Protecting our financial infrastructure and maintaining the public’s trust in our nation’s currency is a top priority.  In conjunction with our federal and local law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively pursue those who distribute counterfeit currency to the fullest extent of the law,” said Reginald Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service Atlanta Field Office.

            According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: On January 18, 2011, TAPIA arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on a flight from Peru.  A Border Patrol Officer searched TAPIA’s luggage and found four small packages wrapped in newspaper and taped beneath a notebook in TAPIA’s daily planning calendar.  The four packages contained a total of 199 counterfeit $100 federal reserve notes.  The notes are examples of a particularly high quality counterfeit $100 bill that is produced in Peru and which has been passed hundreds of times in the United States.  TAPIA is a Peruvian native and a naturalized citizen of the United States.

            On February 22, 2011, a grand jury in the Northern District of Georgia indicted TAPIA on one count of possessing, concealing, and attempting to bring into the United States counterfeit federal reserve notes.  The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

            Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges.  The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

            This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the United States Secret Service.

            Assistant United States Attorney William G. Traynor is prosecuting the case.

            For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or John Horn, First Assistant United States Attorney, through Yvette Comer, at (404) 581-6335.  The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is



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