A compulsion for hard drugs led the team, which includes three sisters, to produce high-quality fake currency on ordinary computer printers, prosecutors allege in court papers and testimony in federal court in Portland.
The indictment, delivered March 28, accuses the five of conspiring to create, deal and pass counterfeit bills at local stores. Two unindicted co-conspirators were also mentioned in the court papers.
Testimony at detention hearings indicated at least three of the suspects had serious drug problems. All are of Laotian descent, and one, Somphalavanh Sophanthavong, is a Laotian national with a criminal record, including convictions for murder and supplying contraband while in prison and forgery.
The (Portland) Oregonian reported Monday John Dalton, agent in charge of the Portland office of the U.S. Secret Service, said drug addiction and counterfeiting often go hand in hand, with proceeds from counterfeiting facilitating addiction.