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Va. 'funny money' had Spanish writing

The next time you're handing out counterfeit $100 bills, here's a suggestion: Don't print the words "BILLETE DE LA SUERTE ALASITAS" in large type next to Ben Franklin's picture.

Two men from Prince William County were arrested last month with such bills, and police on Wednesday issued a warning about the bills and a photo of them.

In what apparently began as a routine drunk-driving arrest on Dumfries Road on June 3, Officer Robert Drumm was searching the driver and located three $100 bills he immediately determined to be counterfeit.

Was it the security band? Was it the watermark? Or perhaps one of the other tricks the U.S. Treasury uses to battle counterfeiters?

Or was it the slogan -- "BILLETE DE LA SUERTE ALASITAS" -- in the upper left-hand corner?

One of the bills. (Pr. William Police)

A quick Internet search indicates that the slogan tells the bearer that the bill is a "Good luck ticket" for the festival of Alasitas, held annually in Peru and Bolivia. They are handed out widely in those parts of South America, sometimes in casinos. The serial number is the same on all the bills. Someone in England is selling some on eBay.

Anyways, the police investigated further, and found that the driver's friend had a whole bunch of these bills. The police searched the friend's house in Manassas and found 59 more Billetes de la suerte Alasitas. And, alas, it was not good luck for him either. He was arrested. (He was also drunk, the police allege, so he was charged with drunk driving, too.)

A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service said they have encountered the bill 125 times in recent years as it has made its way through the Federal Reserve Bank, from all over the world, meaning it has been accepted as genuine, somewhere, at least 125 times. The feds, however, were not interested in prosecuting the Prince William case, so it is being handled at the county level, Prince William Officer Michele M. Nemerow said Wednesday.

Nemerow said she was not aware of the bills being passed anywhere.

Virto, left, and Portillio. (Pr. William Police)

Jose Portillio, 30, of Bealeton, was charged with drunk driving, refusal to take a breathalyzer, possession of fictitious bank notes, and possession of a false work card.

And Ronald Virto, 39, of Manassas, was charged with possessing more than 10 fictitious bank notes, passing fictitious bank notes, and a passel of drunk driving charges. He was ordered held without bond.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  July 14, 2010; 4:50 PM ET
Categories:  Manassas , Pr. William , Tom Jackman  
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Anyone want to take odds on how long it takes for some wingnut to use this to start the rumor that the US is now printing bilingual currency?

Posted by: 303030 | July 14, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"Orr perhas one of the other tricks..."

spell check?

Posted by: wpost456 | July 14, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

This is almost comical....possibly the worst attempt at counterfeiting ever.
Why not just try using Monopoly money next time morons?

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | July 14, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"Nemerow said she was not aware of the bills being passed anywhere. "

then I don't see why they are being charged with passing them.

the drunk driving charges should be enough.

Posted by: MarilynManson | July 14, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone spell the word: IMMIGRATION! Oh, I guess we have to be in Arizona for it to matter.

Posted by: Special_One40 | July 14, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Deport, deport, deport.

Posted by: kenk3 | July 14, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

How many more of these lawbreakers are given a weak slap on the hand and told to move on without being sent back to where ever they are from?Dammit I have been locked up in PWC. for curse and abuse more than once for telling a black kid to stop beating my white daughters.Do your job in that stinking courthouse in VA.And in the Capitol building.Sent those stinking job stealing lawbreakers back to mexico.

Posted by: rootboyslim49 | July 14, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Anybody want to bet that these guys are illegals.

Posted by: zcxnissan | July 14, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

I thought Prince William County, shipped all the ILLEGALS they had, over to Montgomery County.

I agree w/ kenk3. . DEPORT, DEPORT, DEPORT

Posted by: Robbnitafl | July 15, 2010 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Quit castigating these fine folk. They're just doing the work that Americans refuse to do. That's why DoJ (Holder, et. al.) refused prosecution.

Posted by: Advocator | July 19, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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