Saturday, July 22, 2006

Navan Man and the supernotes

Sunday's New York Times magazine has a lengthy story following the trail of extremely high quality $100 bill forgeries that leads back to North Korea. Inevitably the tale gets around to the accusations against Sean Garland:

... increased scrutiny of North Korea’s diplomatic and trading missions ... the regime seems to have changed tactics, harnessing new distribution networks and wholesaling the counterfeits to third parties who would funnel them to criminal gangs. In the late 1990’s, for instance, British detectives began tracking Sean Garland, the leader of the Official Irish Republican Army, a Marxist splinter group of the I.R.A. According to an unsealed federal indictment in Washington, Garland began working with North Korean agents earlier in the decade, purchasing supernotes at wholesale prices before distributing them through an elaborate criminal network with outposts in Belarus and Russia, as well as Ireland. (Garland denies the charges and is currently fighting extradition to the United States from Ireland.)

Incidentally, the story is a tad more tangled than this, since the British actually had Garland in detention following his arrest at the "Official Sinn Fein" annual conference, but he jumped bail and is now back in the Republic. A few months ago, Slugger O'Toole had noted that the US State Department seemed vague about when the extradition request would be sent, and that Bertie didn't sound especially enthused about receiving it.

UPDATE 10 OCTOBER: There's some indication that the increased US aggressiveness towards North Korean financial transactions, of which the Garland indictment is a part, contributed to the NK ill-will regarding nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

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