Latin America & Caribbean

Paraguay police seize tonnes of Venezuelan currency

A picture shows police officers opening sacks filled with Venezuelan banknotes Image copyright Paraguayan police
Image caption The notes were found in bags in the home of an arms dealer, police said

Police in Paraguay seized at least 25 tonnes of bolivar notes in a house in the northern city of Salto de Guaira, 400km (250 miles) from the capital, Asuncion, on Monday.

The Venezuelan currency was found stashed in bags and piled up against a wall in the private home.

Police said that the property belonged to a 39-year-old Paraguayan arms dealer.

Police said they would count the bills on Tuesday to determine their worth.

They said that most of the stash was in 100 and 50 bolivar notes.

Image copyright Paraguayan police
Image caption Police said they would count the money on Tuesday

Due to Venezuela's rampant inflation, the notes are not worth much in themselves. One hundred bolivars only fetch about $0.03 (£0.02) on the black market in Venezuela.

Paraguayan police suspect the plan may have been to use the paper from the Venezuelan notes to print fake dollar bills.

Counterfeiters bleach the markings off the Venezuelan bills and print the US dollar markings on the paper.

Venezuela has complained about its currency, its 100 bolivar notes in particular, being smuggled out of the country to be used to make counterfeit dollars.

In December, President Nicolas Maduro made a surprise announcement that he would pull the 100 bolivar note from circulation and replace it with higher-denomination bills.

The measure was postponed several times as the new higher denomination notes failed to arrive on time and Venezuelans struggled to deposit or change the notes within the tight deadline set by the president.

It is now due to come into effect on 20 February.

More on this story