Georgian police and the U.S. Secret Service have uncovered a counterfeiting ring that has been churning out millions in "very high quality" $100 bills, U.S. officials said this week. Some of the bills have turned up in the Northeastern United States. Authorities seized more than $20 million in fake bills from one printing press in South Ossetia, an enclave in the Caucasus that broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s and is considered by Russia to be its protectorate. Organized-crime gangs operate with near impunity in the region, which has no officially recognized government. "Counterfeiting is not the only headache," said Ekaterine Zguladze, Georgia's deputy interior minister. "You also have drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, robbery, kidnappings." An official from the separatist government in South Ossetia said Georgians were exag-gerating the influence of criminal gangs to try to reassert sovereignty over the region.
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