- The Washington Times - Friday, December 16, 2005

U.S. authorities formally will seek the extradition of the head of the Irish Workers Party, who was arrested in Northern Ireland in October on suspicion of conspiring with North Korean government officials to distribute $28 million worth of high-quality counterfeit $100 bills.

Sean Garland and six co-conspirators are accused in a federal grand jury indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Washington of obtaining quantities of the counterfeit bills known as “supernotes” from North Korean officials that later were passed as real or resold in Britain and elsewhere.

Mr. Garland, 71, is chief of staff to the Official Irish Republican Army, or the remnants of the old IRA after a split in 1970, when many members left to form the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

Channing Phillips, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein in the District, said yesterday that the Justice Department is in the process of putting together a formal extradition request for Mr. Garland’s return from Northern Ireland. He is listed as a fugitive.

The indictment said Mr. Garland led a operation that obtained, transported, sold and passed the highly deceptive counterfeit bills, which first began to appear in worldwide circulation in 1989 and were manufactured in North Korea under the auspices of the government.

The bills were transported worldwide by North Koreans acting as government officials, according to the indictment, which added that in the late 1990s, after the United States re-designed its $100 bill to include additional security features, correspondingly redesigned supernotes began to appear.

“The worldwide trafficking in counterfeit currency provides a source of illegal revenue for criminal organizations around the globe,” Mr. Wainstein said. “This prosecution is a significant step in our effort to disrupt that trade and cripple those organizations.”

North Korea is thought to have produced the high-quality fake $100 bills since 1989 and is the world’s only state-sponsored producer of the supernotes, according to U.S. law-enforcement authorities. A senior Bush administration official said Mr. Garland is wanted as part of a probe into supernotes uncovered during anti-crime operations that led to the August arrests of 87 persons in Los Angeles and Newark, N.J.

That investigation uncovered a Chinese organized-crime network that dealt in supernotes produced by North Korea and shipped through China to the United States.

The indictment describes efforts by Mr. Garland from December 1997 to July 2000 to obtain counterfeit notes from North Korean sources.

It said the bills were sold and circulated in Russia, Belarus, Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Germany, and that couriers made frequent trips to Ireland with genuine cash to pay for the counterfeits.

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