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Secret Service, APD investigating counterfeit ring

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AMARILLO - Secret Service agents have spent over a month in Amarillo investigating a counterfeit ring.

Right now the U.S. Secret Service along with the Amarillo Police Department are still searching for one suspect, while three other are already behind bars for forgery of a government institution.

It doesn't take that keen of an eye to spot a fake. Modern bills not only have a texture unlike any other paper, but unique watermarks and tiny writing make them almost impossible to duplicate.

"In a real bill those are actually built into the bill. Counterfeiters don't necessarily have the technology to put that into a piece of paper," Amarillo Police Department Sergeant Brent Barbee said.

Forgery is a third degree felony that the federal government doesn't take lightly.

So when several Amarillo businesses reported counterfeit bills in early April, the Secret Service came to town.

"This case includes several bills that showed up over the course of about a month, and there was a common thread that these bills have similar appearances and may have had the same origin," Barbee said.

The Secret Service first became involved when counterfeit 10's and 20's started surfacing at local convenience stores.

Three suspects are already behind bars charged with forgery for possessing and attempting to pass counterfeit bills.

27-year-old Ronald Joseph Odell of Amarillo was arrested after police say he tried to use counterfeit bills at a fast-food restaurant on April 8th.

21-year-old Noah Levy Rendon Jr. and 24-year-old Rosa Linda Gaona, both of Amarillo, were arrested on April 26 after police say they tried to buy prepaid cell phones with fake bills.

APD says all three suspects were arrested shortly after employees at local businesses noticed the fakes and called police.

"People who handle cash a lot can quickly identify a counterfeit," Barbee said. "They don't have to do any tests or look for a watermark. They just know something doesn't look right, or it doesn't feel right."

36-year-old Ruben Jose Perez is wanted in the investigation as well. APD says he is suspected to have tried to use counterfeit 10's to buy tools from an individual who posted an ad on the Internet.

Police believe all the suspects in the investigation used fake bills made by the same person.

If you have any information on Perez's whereabouts you are asked to call Amarillo Crime Stoppers at 374-4400.

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