In Prince William County, Virginia, a DUI arrest turned into a counterfeit currency bust when police discovered that the two men being arrested had three odd-looking $100 bills in their possession.
According to the Washington Post, police nabbed the two men on what they thought was a routine suspicion of drunk driving stop. When the police officer searched the men, though, he found several $100 bills that didn’t look quite right.
What tipped him off was a message written next to Benjamin Franklin’s head that read “BILLETE DE LA SUERTE ALASITAS.” According to the Washington Post, it denotes the bill as a good luck ticket for the festival of Alasitas, which is a festival held every year in Peru and Bolivia. At the festivals, bills of this kind are handed out widely in casinos and elsewhere.
Apparently these bills are available on eBay, from a seller operating out of England.
The officer determined that the bills were counterfeit, and police investigated the strange bills further. They found that the driver’s friend had even more of the bills, and when they searched his house they found 59 more.
According to the U.S. Secret Service, these bills have appeared in the Federal Reserve Bank 125 times. In other words, someone has accepted this type of bill as real currency at least 125 times over the years.
Federal prosecutors were not interested in pursuing the case of the drunk drivers who were caught with counterfeit cash, so instead the county will handle the case. County police were not aware of the bills actually being passed as real anywhere.
One man, Jose Portillio, got charged with drunk driving, refusal to take a Breathalyzer test, possession of fictitious bank notes and possession of a false work card. The other man, Ronald Virto, was charged with possessing more than ten fictitious bank notes, passing fictitious bank notes, and drunk driving charges.
Many times DUI arrests lead to additional charges. This appears to be one of those cases, when one offense clues police onto another and a DUI suspect must answer additional charges, too.