Six people have been arrested in Zambia on suspicion of circulating counterfeit US dollars, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) said on Thursday.
The suspects, who include a police officer and a local court magistrate, were arrested in a joint operation by the DEC and the Zambia Police Service in Kitwe.
The DEC said the suspects were found in possession of counterfeit notes totaling US$1.03 million. They have been charged with possession of counterfeit currency, which is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The DEC said the arrests were a significant breakthrough in the investigation into the circulation of counterfeit currency in Zambia. The agency said it is working to dismantle the criminal network responsible for the counterfeiting and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The DEC also warned the public to be vigilant and to avoid transacting in foreign currency on the streets. Counterfeit currency can undermine the economy and pose significant risks to individuals and businesses.
The arrests come amid growing concerns about the prevalence of counterfeit currency in Zambia. The DEC said it has seized counterfeit notes with an estimated value of US$2 million in the past year.
The agency attributed the increase in counterfeiting to the country’s porous borders and the high demand for foreign currency. The DEC said it is working with other law enforcement agencies to crack down on counterfeiting and protect the country’s financial system.
The arrests have been welcomed by the business community, which has been affected by the circulation of counterfeit currency. The Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the arrests are a sign that the government is taking the issue seriously.
The chamber urged the government to continue to crack down on counterfeiting and to educate the public about the dangers of counterfeit currency.
The DEC has set up a hotline for the public to report suspicious activity related to counterfeit currency. The number is 0977 777 777.