Paper Money of Chihuahua

.. by Simon Prendergast

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Home The History The sábanas Counterfeiting in the United States

Counterfeiting in the United States

All the rebel Mexican issues were quickly counterfeited, and much of this work was done in the United States.

American attitude to counterfeit currency

In the beginning it was believed that counterfeiters were breaking the federal law against “having in one’s possession with intent to circulate, false, forged or counterfeit money of a foreign country”. By March 1914 nine arrests had already been made on this charge in the district court in El Paso. Attorneys who had studied the law said that there was no question of the recognition of the belligerency of the Mexican rebel government involved in the complaints. The statute plainly read the passage of bogus money “of a foreign country,” and this applied like a blanket to all forms of currency. In addition to the federal charges there was a probability of arrest by state authorities on the charge of swindling in cases where the money had been passed by persons knowing that it was not genuine El Paso Herald, 27 March 1914. Mexican officials pointed out that the Villa money had a certain monetary value even in the United States, as an exchange bank was doing business in El PasoEl Paso Herald, 20 March 1914.

However, within a fortnight it was assumed that the federal charges would be dropped, as the word ‘country’ had caused problems. The federal officials claimed that this meant money of any country, regardless of whether or not the United States had recognized that country and on this assumption had sworn out the warrants and made the arrests. It developed when the federal court opened that ‘country’ was meant in the sense of a nation, and as the United States had not recognized the belligerency of the revolution it could not be called a country under this lawEl Paso Herald, 8 April 1914. On the understanding that the United States government had practically decided not to prosecute any counterfeiter, the Mexican authorities in Ciudad Juárez increased their activities against counterfeitingEl Paso Herald, 9 April 1914.

On 4 May 1914 Judge Dan Jackson instructed a grand jury to investigate the business of counterfeitingEl Paso Herald, 4 May 1914.

The rebel Constitutionalists called for recognition by the United States so that the United States and Mexican secret service could cooperate in stopping the manufacturing and passing of counterfeit money. A local paper reported that an enormous amount of counterfeit money had been printed and placed in circulation along the border, with the burden of losses falling on Americans who purchased the money, believing it to be genuine, and were then forced to lose all they had paid for it when the currency was confiscated by Mexican officialsEl Paso Herald, 4 August 1914.

This question of counterfeiting was investigated several times by grand juries in El Paso and Fort WorthFort Worth Star-Telegram, 30 September 1914. As neither Carranza or Villa were recognized by the United States, lawyers argued that their clients were not committing the offence of counterfeiting the legal tender of a foreign country. It was then questioned whether the provisional government of Chihuahua, when not recognized by the United States government, would be regarded by the U. S. courts as a bona fide institution to such an extent that the issuing of false evidence of indebtedness against it would constitute forgery. The only charge that had been brought against those arrested was conspiracy to swindle.

Because of the problems caused by the flood of counterfeit money in September 1914 the Mayor of El Paso, C. E. Kelly, asked Governor O. B. Colquitt to pass a special law, making it a crime to pass counterfeit money of a foreign country in Texas, in the hope that a severe penalty could be used to break up the organized counterfeiting gangsDallas Morning News, 8 September 1914: El Paso Herald, 12 September 1914. The bill was introduced in the House by representatives Burges and Harris, from El Paso, and in the Senate by senators Hudspeth and McNealus, given a favourable committee report, passed on 15 SeptemberDallas Morning News, 16 September 1914 and signed into law by the Governor on 17 September 1914Dallas Morning News, 18 September 1914. However, an Attorney General’s ruling on the governor’s legal standing later put the law at jeopardyDallas Morning News, 6 October 1914.

On 22 September Mayor Kelly ordered police chief I. N. Davis to arrest all people attempting to pass counterfeit Mexican moneyEl Paso Herald, 22 September 1914 but on 3 October he reported “We have arrived at no indictments, owing to the divergent legal opinions”El Paso Herald, 3 October 1914.

By 17 February 1915 there had been a number of arrests in Texas of people floating large amounts of counterfeit paper money, purporting to be the currency of the Constitutionalist Government of Mexico, which, as the genuine currency had a certain value on the border, would cause injury to the Americans who bought it. Again, the Department of Justice was unable to decide whether such counterfeit notes constituted a violation of Section 156 of the Federal Penal Code of 1910, or that the Constitutionalist Government was “any foreign government” within the meaning of that same section, and wrote to the State Department for advice.  The State Department replied that neither the Department nor any officials of the United States had recognized the Constitutionalist administration as a “foreign government”SD papers, 812.5158/20 letter Charles Warner, Assistant Attorney-General, 17 February 1915; letter Robert Lansing, Counselor for State Department, 25 February 1915.

On 31 March Villa decreed the death penalty for counterfeiting. Villa said, “I am sorry to say I have been forced to take this step, because it has been impossible to cause punishment of the culprits in the United States, notwithstanding the truthful evidence that we have presented against the defendants in many cases and because the conscious sellers are not prosecuted in any way, and the consequence has been to increase the issue of bogus money.”Washington Post, 2 April 1915. On 7 April 1915 Enrique C. Llorente left the following memorandum with Bryan, the Secretary of State.
“The Provisional Government of Mexico is much concerned relative to the circulation of quantities of counterfeit Mexican currency, introduced from the United States. The making or passing, or possession, of counterfeit notes, with criminal intent, has, therefore, been made a military offense by the authorities, and is punishable by death, since this drastic measure seems to be the only means of preventing the practice, of late so prevalent.
Representatives of the Provisional Government, in the United States, have frequently invited the attention of the authorities both Federal and State, to the fact that counterfeit Mexican currency was being manufactured in this jurisdiction, and on numerous occasions parties were pointed out with packages of the false notes in their possession. The Federal authorities assert that the laws by which they are guided, are insufficient to embrace this class of counterfeiting, since the notes do not purport to have been issued under the authority of a government recognized by the United States. The State officials, on their part, seem indifferent to the matter, notwithstanding the guilty parties might, in many instances, be prosecuted for uttering forged instruments. Despite the fact that Texas recently adopted certain amendments to its criminal code, specially designed to prevent the counterfeiting of Mexican currency, issued since the commencement of the revolution, the authorities of that State have failed in securing adequate results, and hardly a day passes what quantities of the spurious notes are detected in the possession of persons engaged in its exchange for legitimate money. This condition of affairs has compelled the Provisional Government to provide the unusual measure above referred to, as punishment for the introduction of counterfeit currency into Mexican territory.
In the case of Cox, an American citizen, it is reported that the accused was recently apprehended in Monterrey  with 109,560 pesos in his possession, having arrived there from Tampico, through which port, it is believed, the bills were introduced. Cox, when tried, will be afforded every opportunity to present his defense, and the Department of State can rest assured that he will receive every consideration compatible with the demands of justice.
Meanwhile, the Provisional Government would much appreciate it, were the Department of State to employ its good offices with the several border states, to the end that more active steps be taken for the prevention of the counterfeiting of Mexican currency, and in forbidding, by lawful means, the use of their territory as bases from which persons engaged in traffic in that currency may freely continue their nefarious work, so injurious to the people of Mexico, and to the good relations between them and the people of the United States, along the border.”
The Secretary of State replied that on April 6, the matter was called to the attention of the Attorney-General, with the request that, if it was practicable under the law to take action to prevent the manufacture and sale in the United States of counterfeit Mexican money, he issue instructions to the appropriate officers and agents of his DepartmentSD papers, 812.5157/75.

On 9 April the Department of Justice noted that it assumed that the State Department’s statement held true in relation to the Villa alleged de facto government. If so, the making in the United States of so-called money counterfeiting money issued by General Villa also did not constitute a violation of Sections 156 to 161 of the Federal Penal Code of 1910, or of any other criminal statute of the United States. So there was no legal action that it could take to prevent the manufacture and sale in the United States of the alleged counterfeit Mexican money. On 16 April  the State Department informed Llorente  and George C. Carothers of this opinionSD papers, 812.5157/76, letter Assistant Attorney General to Department of State, 9 April 1915; letter Robert Lansing to Enrique L, Lorente, 16 April 1915; letter Robert Lansing to George C. Carothers, 16 April 1915.

In reply on 14 June James E. Ferguson, the Governor of Texas, wrote that the state had a statute bearing upon the circulation of counterfeit Mexican currency, but it was not properly drawn to meet the situation, as it subsequently developed. However, he was giving the matter attentionSD papers, 812.5157/85.

On 17 July Elisio Arrendondowriting care of Messrs. Douglas, Ruffin and Obear, Southern Building, Washington, D. C. wrote to the State Department that several persons with counterfeit Mexican paper money in their possession had been arrested at San Antonio, Texas. The State Department copied the letter to Ferguson, Governor of TexasSD papers, 812.5157/94and on 3 August W. C. Linden, the District Attorney in San Antonio reported to the Governor that more than two years ago parties both in San Antonio and El Paso engaged in the printing of counterfeit Villa and Carranza money. However, an examination of the statute revealed the fact that it was not a violation of the law of Texas to counterfeit the circulating medium of a foreign country or de facto government. Linden called the attention of the local Federal officers to the conditions existing here, and learned that their law did not reach it.
“Subsequently, at the called session of 1914, the Legislature of Texas enacted a law which was designed to cover this defect, and which provided that the counterfeiting or forging of the money or circulating medium passing as money of any foreign government, de facto government, office – or the having in possession of such money for the purpose of circulation, or the means of producing same, constituted a felony. The nature of the statute, however, is more of a forgery statute than a counterfeiting statute.
“After it became law, several parties were arrested upon a charge of violation of the statute, and a charge of conspiracy growing out of the statute itself, and a large amount of the money was seized together with the plates and press used in its creation, which are now held in custody by the sheriff of this county, to be used as evidence upon the trial of these cases. I think three parties are under indictment upon this charge. The cases have not been tried, and parties are all out on bond a little above the bond for felonies of like grade.
“I am a little bit doubtful as to my ability to convict them because it becomes necessary to allege that the money which they were making was money of a de facto officer or government, to wit: the Villa de facto government, and Villa as a de facto officer of the Republic of Mexico. My doubt is based upon the fact that under that allegation it becomes necessary to prove that Villa’s government is a de facto government of the Republic of Mexico and that he is a de facto officer. This will be extremely difficult (first) because the United States government, not having recognized either faction in Mexico, even as a belligerent, the courts cannot take judicial cognizance of the existence of that government as a de facto government, - and, second, because in the absence of judicial knowledge upon the subject it would be necessary to establish the proof thru some officer or purported officer of the Villa faction in Mexico, and when the proof is offered it would be a mere declaration upon the part of a witness, and would only be the basis for a contention upon my part that that established the existence of the Villa regime as a de facto government, which, of course, would be met with the contention that the proof merely established that Villa is the head of a revolution and that there is no de facto government existing in Mexico by reason of the fact that neither party has been recognized by this government either as a de facto government of the Republic of Mexico or as a belligerent entitled to recognition.
“I believe, however, that these arrests and seizures, coupled with the pendency of these indictments, has effectually stopped the wholesale traffic in and manufacture of this money which had existed prior to that time. I am sure that there has been no trouble of this character of recent origin in San Antonio, as the matter has been very closely watched and guarded both by the sheriff’s department and by the city officialsSD papers, 812.5157/97”.

Similarly in California, U. S. Webb, the San Francisco Attorney General, reported to the Governor, Hiram W. Johnson, that “Investigation has disclosed the fact that a large quantity of such alleged paper money has been printed in this City; that prior to the printing of the same, the parties printing such alleged money investigated the condition of the Federal statute covering such act by consulting the United States District Attorney upon the same, and were advised that the printing of such alleged money was not an offense against the Federal statute, inasmuch as there was no recognized form of government in Mexico, and that the Federal statute covered only the counterfeiting of the money of a foreign government recognized by the United States.
“So far as the statutes of this State are concerned, the printing of such alleged money cannot constitute an offense, and is an act on a parity with the printing of the promissory notes of any individual.
So far as we have been unable to ascertain, none of the alleged printed money has been sold or circulated in this State as actual, valuable currency.
“I beg, therefore, to advise you that, as far as our State statures are concerned, it is not within our power to take proceedings against the persons concerned in the affairSD papers, 812.5157/97 letter 29 July 1915.”

Known instances of counterfeiters in the United States

Since the reports do not always identify the particular type of currency, these could refer to Villista or Carrancista currency.

G. Gallegos, T. Fierro, José Vicente, Francisco Alonzo, E. Costillo, Francisco Fernandez and José Santana Gómez: In February 1914 county attorney P. R. Price filed complaints in judge E. B. McClintock’s court against six defendants. Gallegos, Fierro, Vicente, Alonzo, Costillo and Fernandez were charged with swindling, and Vicente, Alonzo and Fernandez were charged with having forged instruments in their possession. The complainant, J. M. Chernin, a South El Paso Street merchant, alleged that he paid $380, Mexican money, for $460 worth of the alleged “phoney” rebel money. The defendants were arrested by city detectives on 16 February and two suit cases containing $250,000 of the Monclova issue, which the detectives pronounced counterfeit, were recoveredEl Paso Herald, 18 February 1914.

José Santa (sic) Gómez was arrested by detectives on 18 February and is alleged to have had $400 of counterfeit (Monclova) money on his personEl Paso Herald, 19 February 1914.

All seven were charged by commissioner George B. Oliver, of the United States commissioner’s court, with having in their possession counterfeit money of a foreign countryEl Paso Herald, 19 February 1914. One of the witnesses at the hearings was Luis Aguirre Benavides, private secretary to General Villa, who identified the genuine currency in the lot held as evidence against the prisoners. Alonzo, Fernandez and Visconte were released on 19 February under bond (Alonzo and Fernandez put up $250 for their freedom and Visconte $500). Gallegos was released on 20 February 1914 on a $1,000 bondEl Paso Herald, 20 February 1914.

Visconte was discharged after a hearing before Oliver on 24 February as there was not sufficient evidence presented against himEl Paso Herald, 26 February 1914.

Gallegos and Gómez might have continued their partnership as two counterfeiters with these names were shot in Mexico in December 1915El Pueblo. 11 December 1915.

Guadalupe Zozaya: Zozaya was detained pending further investigations after El Paso detectives recovered nearly $8,000 of alleged counterfeit Villa money, on 17 March 1914, after two places on South El Paso Street had been searched. The detectives believed that the money had been made in Los Angeles or some other Pacific coast town and shipped to El Paso for distributionEl Paso Herald, 18 March 1914.

Charles Owen: Owen, an El Paso lawyer, was arrested on 19 March on the charge of having in his possession counterfeit “Constitutionalist” currency. He was released on bond immediately after he surrendered himself to United States commissioner George B. OliverEl Paso Herald, 20 March 1914. His preliminary hearing was set for 27 MarchEl Paso Herald, 27 March 1914. Charles Owen later reappears as an attorney working on Villa's behalf.

In late March matters nearly came to an exchange of blows or bullets when agents of the Chihuahua government accosted an American in the lobby of an El Paso hotel and accused him of possessing 12,000 pesos in counterfeit money. They were told to “mind their own business”El Paso Herald, 20 March 1914: Albuquerque Journal, 21 March 1914.

John G. Sperro: Sperro was arrested in March 1914 for possessing counterfeit currency. Alleged counterfeit money, having a supposed value of $1,660, was introduced in evidence and made a part of the record. At his hearing, Pedro Maese, collector of customs in Ciudad Juárez and the money expert who determined which of the money was counterfeit and which genuine, appeared before the commissioner and explained to the court and attorneys present the difference between the two. He pointed out that the word “valido” on the face of the $20 bills was followed by a comma on the counterfeit, while the comma was missing on the genuineActually it is the other way round with the genuine notes having the comma. See counterfeit Type 1. He also showed that the type of the counterfeit money was heavier than in the genuine and the angle of the flourish of Vargas’ signature was much heavier than on the genuine bills. Sperro was held under a bond of $500, pending an investigation by the grand juryEl Paso Herald, 26 March 1914.

Sperro was later docketed at the police station on the night of 13 May 1914 on a charge of being a suspicious character, after El Paso police alleged that he had $8,000 “phony” Villa money in his possession. The case was investigated by the city detectivesEl Paso Herald, 14 May 1914.

E. Sambrano: Sambrano, a merchant on the south side, was arrested by United States officials on 27 March 1914, on the charge of having counterfeit money of a foreign country in his possession. A suitcase of Constitutionalist money, amounting to $26,000, had it been good, was seized by the officers. He was released on bond pending a preliminary hearingEl Paso Herald, 28 March 1914.

Jesus Navarro: Navarro was arrested on 3 April on the charge of having counterfeit Constitutionalist money in his possession. He was claimed to have had $3,500 worth of the bogus money when arrestedEl Paso Herald, 4 April 1914.

Villegas, Soto, Salazar, Gutiérrez Palacios: In May 1914 Salvador Cataño, Carranza's agent, was in Denver, Colorado investigating a case of counterfeiting. On 14 May Cataño wrote from the Hotel Adams in that city to the governor of Chihuahua that he had just received a telegram from the Director General del Timbre telling him that the Chihuahua government had not ordered any printing and asking him to find out who was involved, even though he could not take any action.
Cataño had spoken with one of the counterfeiters, a Villegas, who said that a Miguel Soto, a Salazar and a Gutiérrez Palacios were also involved and that for some time they had been counterfeiting  Chihuahua, Constitutionalist and Estado de Sonora issues, presumably with the aid of the Smith-Brooke Printing CompanyThe Smith-Brooks Printing Company in Denver certainly provided postage and revenue stamps for the Constitutionalists and there are other references to them producing currency. Orville Louis Hough, grandson of the firm’s co-founder O. L. Smith, said that he understood that Carranza sent Salvador Cataño, (according to newspaper reports 'Carranza's representative to Denver' and 'Commissioner of the Constitutionalist government') to Denver in March 1914 on a secret mission. Hough recalled: "We had a drawer with samples of work we had done in the past and one day John Brooks (company secretary-treasurer) trotted out some bills. I don’t remember the denomination. I remember him telling me what I already knew, namely that it was federal money and revolutionary money. My recollection is that in the lower left hand corner beneath fancy scrollwork, I think it said 'Litho,' or maybe just 'Smith-Brooks,' or maybe 'S-B,' but there was some indication where they were printed".
Ed O’Hara, a bookkeeper, recalled a story concerning Milo R. Foley, the manager of the company. "Foley used to flash the currency around as a joke. One day he was eating in a small coffee shop with his 'stage money' and one of the FBI men noticed it. He asked Foley about it and when he learned it was actual currency, he advised John Brooks that it should be carefully guarded and all remainders completely destroyed. That was done." Some people claimed that the order had been placed by Villa as an order was for the 'Sonoran government' after a Smith-Brooks salesman tracked Villa down and sold him the job. John Brooks’ son, Jack, said that the job was done on a 1908 Harris Offset Press (Ron Mitchell, Mexican Money Mystery, in Mexican Revolution Reporter, 30, February 1984). In 1916 it was reported that in November 1914 the Smith-Brooke Printing Company had made large quantities of paper money supposedly for the Villa government, and still had on hand some spoiled and sample sheets, as well as the zinc plates from which it was made (SD papers, 812.5158/50, report of U.S. Attorney, Denver, 14 March 1916)
. They had associates in Agua Prieta and El Paso as well as Pueblo, Colorado, and sufficient resources. Villegas offered Cataño fifteen thousand dollars to order, in his capacity as a government representative, plates for the $20 Chihuahua note. On 11 May Villegas left Denver for El Paso. Cataño gave a descriptiontall, dark, about 55 years old, clean shaven, usually under the influence of alcohol, smokes constantly with a wooden cigarette holder, brown hat with a dark band, blue or light clothesso that others could look out for him. The information was passed on to Hector Ramos, in Ciudad Juárez, on 25 May so that he could try to get the Americans to arrest VillegasCONDUMEX, Fondo XXI, legajo 3240.   

Archie G. McMath: In February 1914 the Fort Worth firm of Exline-Reimers printed some Villista notes. An alleged Constitutionalist representative, giving no name and making no contract but paying cash for the work, had come to Fort Worth, bringing with him the plates from which the money was printed. The plates were beautifully engraved, bearing the signatures of the Constitutionalist officials and required four-colour presswork. By 23 February a newspaper was reporting that the first lot of $1,000,000 in crisp $50 notes was on its way to the Mexican borderFort Worth Star-Telegram, 23 February 1914. A month later an attorney representing El Paso interests called at the plant to get a description of the man who had the money printedFort Worth Star-Telegram, 25 March 1914.

In October 1914 A. G. McMath, an estate agent from El Paso, was indicted by the grand jury in El Paso for the forgery of Constitutionalist currency in connection with this issue. McMath was alleged to have be the man posing as a Constitutionalist agent. He had had the money shipped to him at Clint, Texas, under the name of Jackson. Eight indictments were returned, covering the different denominations included in the alleged spurious issue, and Judge Buck fixed his bond at £750 in each of the eight casesFort Worth Star-Telegram, 22 October 1914.

McMath was arrested by El Paso deputy sheriff J. B. Kilpatrick on 22 October following a telegram from the Fort Worth sheriff saying that he was wanted there on a forgery charge. The telegram stated that the charge was in connection with some counterfeit Villa money and that McMath had been indicted on eight counts in the 48th district court at Fort WorthEl Paso Herald, 23 October 1914.

McMath made bond at El Paso but was immediately rearrested on twenty warrants from Dallas, where it was alleged that another $1,000,000 of the bogus currency had been printedFort Worth Star-Telegram, 26 October 1914. These warrants had been issued from a justice court in Dallas on complaint of C. A. Gardiner, a Villista secret service agent, and charged McMath with forging the name of General Villa to twenty separate pieces of currency purporting to be $20 notes of the Villa governmentFort Worth Star-Telegram, 26 October 1914.

The Dallas printers had received the order and printed the money, then learned that it was not for Villa. In late September 1914 the new State law came into effect making the publishing in Texas of the counterfeit money of any nation a felony so the printers refused to deliver the money and sent it to County Attorney Currie (Curtis) McCutcheon as a precautionary measure. 0n 6 October these two boxes were opened in  McCutcheon’s office: one had dies or engravings and the other had $1,000,000 in spurious Villista currencyDallas Morning News, 7 October 1914. Villa had had a committee in Dallas two weeks before seeking information on the alleged printing of counterfeit money in Dallas and McCutcheon wrote to Villa asking him to return his committee to Dallas to facilitate a grand jury investigationDallas Morning News, 9 October 1914. Both Villa’s representative, whose name was kept secret, and the manager of the printing concern testified before the grand jury. McCutcheon asked the grand jury to investigate the matter to see if it could be handled under any of the old state laws, as it was not believed that the printing of this money would come under the new lawDallas Morning News, 24 October 1914.

On 28 October McMath was taken to Dallas. His attorney, judge J. F. Weeks, said that he not only had no connection with the forged issue, but that it was doubtful whether, under Texas statutes, the issuing of such Mexican paper was forgery. He claimed that the Villa currency was not money and not even a promise or guarantee to pay anything of value and that an imitation of it could not therefore be classed as a forgeryFort Worth Star-Telegram, 28 October 1914. “Even admitting the truth of the charges claimed by the state, our client has not violated any of  the laws of  Texas.” Judge Weeks stated that the defence would insist that the charges were without foundation. “Mr. McMath is regarded as one of the best citizens of El Paso and has never before been prosecuted on any felony chargeEl Paso Herald, 31 October 1914.” McMath was admitted to bond in the sum of $5,000 in the twenty cases filed against him and returned to his home in El PasoFort Worth Star-Telegram, 29 October 1914: Dallas Morning News, 29 October 1914.

The next day Charles Owen of El Paso, an attorney representing Villa, held a conference with McCutcheon and Assistant County Attorney W. F. Bane regarding plans for prosecuting McMathDallas Morning News, 30 October 1914. Finally, on 17 November, the grand jury returned an indictment into Judge R. B. Seay’s court, charging McMath with forgeryDallas Morning News, 18 November 1914. Judge Seay set the trial date as 18 January 1915. Gunther Lessing of El Paso was to come to Dallas for the trial as a special representative of Villa’s governmentDallas Morning News, 12 January 1915. However, at the trial Seay dismissed the indictment because it did not go enough into details as to the nature of the instrument alleged to have been forgedDallas Morning News, 19 January 1915.

McMath was a recidivist. On 24 February 1915 he was arrested at the Hotel McCoy, El Paso, by detective O. W. Smith, and found to have a handbag with $50,000 in counterfeit $5 dos caritas, which he was trying to exchange for gold. A complaint was filed in justice J. M. Deaver’s court charging him with having a forged instrument in his possession. The notes were being held pending the preliminary hearing, probably on 1 MarchEl Paso Herald, 23 February 1915: Prensa, 25 February 1915.

Lino Ponce and Genaro A. Ceniceros: PonceLino's brother, Colonel Demetrio Ponce had been Pascual Orozco’s commander in Ciudad Juárez in 1912, and in July 1913 the two bought the saloon and store at the Guadarrama smelter (El Paso Herald, 16 July 1913), who ran a saloon and grocery store on South El Paso Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets, was arrested by El Paso detectives on 21 February 1914 and docketed on a charge of swindling. The officers alleged that Ponce gave Raoul Loya about $1,000 of allegedly counterfeit money to cash into gold. Loya obtained approximately $300 in goldEl Paso Herald, 23 February 1914.

In July 1914 Ponce and Ceniceros, together with Carlos Goethals (elsewhere Gothis), a poor Mexican, took $500 of Constitutionalist money to the Santa Cruz Valley Bank & Trust in Nogales and were given $127.50 in gold, making the exchange at the prevailing rate. Ceniceros and Ponce left town that day but Goethals was not quite so quick and stayed long enough to be arrested later for riding a horse through the streets at too fast a pace. He was fined $10 for the offence. The bank then discovered that the money was counterfeit and the sheriff notified. Goethals had then left town but was arrested at Douglas and returned to Nogales. He told the police where his accomplices could be found and they were finally arrested in Naco by Sheriff McKnight Tucson Daily Citizen, 1 August 1914. It seems that the U. S. Secret Service had been aware of the criminals and took measures to ensure that the scam did not succeed and that General Villa and his agents had been kept informed (CONDUMEX, Fondo Federico González Garcia, carpeta 35, legajo 3456 report of agent 28-31 July 1914). At a preliminary hearing in Judge Chatham’s court on 3 August, Ponce and Ceniceros were bound over to the superior court being held on $2,000 bonds each. Ponce and Ceniceros were charged with obtaining money under false pretences. At the preliminary hearing Carlos Goethals, who had turned state’s evidence, was the chief witness. Other witnesses were R. L. O’Neill, cashier of the Santa Cruz Valley Bank and Trust Co, who had had some of the money examined by experts, the cashier of the Douglas bank who accepted some of the phoney money and Sheriff McKnight who made the arrestTucson Daily Citizen, 4 August 1914. Goethals maybe was not the poor dumb Mexican that is implied here. A later report said that he had been a broker in Nogales buying and selling Mexican currency. Goethals claimed he was made the “goat” for his co-conspirators, and could not fight the charges against him as he was threatened with deportation which would have resulted in his death at the hands of a firing squad.  He pleaded guilty to the charge of manufacturing Mexican counterfeit money and was sentenced to seven years but served only one before he was released on parole (Bisbee Daily Review, 12 January 1916)..

Their bonds were later raised to $2,500, on a further complaint that they passed an additional $1,800, which they knew to be counterfeitTucson Daily Citizen, 8 August 1914 and they finally made bail on 20 AugustTucson Daily Citizen, 20 August 1914.

A Villa’s agent reported that between 8 and 17 November he had managed to get the Ciudad Juárez police to arrest an individual with $10,000 in counterfeit money, which he claimed to have bought with the knowledge of Santos Ponce. Investigations continued to provide good results and the arrest of the Ponce brothers was expected within a few daysCONDUMEX, Fondo Federico González Garcia, carpeta 37, legajo 3651 report of 8-17 November 1914.

Ponce returned to Nogales from El Paso on 13 November to attend court. Ceniceros was reported to be  confined to his bed in El Paso with a severe illnessTucson Daily Citizen, 16 November 1914. On 17 November the charges were dismissed by the superior court. County Attorney Noon for the state requested the dismissal saying that the evidence which he had hoped to use could not be used at this time. The court ordered the sheriff to return to the prisoners the sum of $30,000 which had been taken from them. A newspaper reported that the case was an interesting one in that had it come to trial, the question of the legality of the so-called issues of Villa currency would have been thrashed out. The attorneys for the defendants, Barry & Barry, were prepared to argue the illegality of Villa currency on a demurrer but the action of the court in dismissing the case made this unnecessaryTucson Daily Citizen, 18 November 1914. Villa’s agents were hoping to get Demetrio Ponce arrested for mail fraud, a crime that was severely punished in the States (CONDUMEX, Fondo Federico González Garcia, carpeta 37, legajo 3669 report of 18-26 November 1914).

Within a few day Ponce was being held in El Paso pending hearing on his request for release on habeas corpus and on the request of Memphis officials that he be extradited to Tennessee, where quantities of bogus Mexican currency had been circulatedFort Worth Star-Telegram, 23 November 1914: CONDUMEX, Fondo Federico González Garza, carpeta 37, legajo 3691 report of 1-8 December 1914. It was alleged that Ponce had arranged for a Memphis company to print a large “amount of scrip presumably for the state of Chihuahua”, presenting credentials which were accepted as authentic but later questionedEl Paso Herald, 21 November 1914: Villa’ agents claimed that they were responsible for the Memphis arrest warrant. In particular, Agent #5 had prevent more than $4,000,000 in counterfeit notes being put into circulation as that was the amount, together with clichés etc., had been recovered by the Memphis authorities (CONDUMEX, Fondo Federico González Garcia, carpeta 37, legajo 3669 report of 18-26 November 1914). Ponce was released by the El Paso court in DecemberEl Paso Herald, 2 December 1914, having produced evidence that he was in Douglas, Arizona, at the time of the circulation of the bogus paper in MemphisFort Worth Star-Telegram, 3 December 1914, and a later attempt by officers to whisk him away to Memphis was also frustrated by the courtsEl Paso Herald, 15 December 1914.

The Ponce brothers did not give up. On 9 May 1915 the Villista agent in El Paso, Hector Ramos, wrote to the Sonora governor, Maytorena, that he was aware that one of Maytorena’s military paymaster, called Francisco Huerta, was in correspondence with the Ponce brothers and was likely to be dealing in counterfeit currencyJMM papers, box 5, folder 9, item 17 Ramos to Maytorena,  9 May 1915. Maytorena passed on the warning to Prefecto F. M. Ayon in HermosilloJMM papers, box 5, folder 10, item 16 Maytorena to Ayon, 11 May 1915, though Huerta himself had already been dismissedJMM papers, box 5, folder 10, item 19.

Dr. A. S. Bronson: This American physician was arrested by in El Paso on 29 August 1914 following a raid on his offices in the Caples building, 300 S. San Antonio Street. About $500,000 in false paper currency was found in his possession. He was charged in forty-nine separate complaints with possessing forged instruments and held in default of a $10,000 bondAlbuquerque Journal, 30 August 1914; Albuquerque Journal, 31 August 1914. After a preliminary hearing in Judge T. A. Palvey’s court, extending over four days, during which more than a score of witnesses testified for the state, Dr. Bronson was held for the grand jury on a $5,000 bondAlbuquerque Journal, 4 September 1914.

Justice of the peace James J. Murphy's court heard that the Ciudad Juárez police, Johnnie Russell, proprietor of the Black Cat café, and Louie Lombardo, a waiter at the café, had enticed two Americans, J. A. Robb and George B. Boyce, across the river so that they might be arrested in possession of counterfeit money. The plan was arranged to catch Robb and Boyce, after Robb sold $200 pesos in counterfeit Villa currency, that he had received from Bronson, to a waiter.

The first witness called was Robb, arrested the previous week by the Mexican authorities in Ciudad Juárez on a charge of passing counterfeit Villa currency though released after six days through the efforts of El Paso's mayor, C. E. Kelly. Robb testified to having met Dr. Bronson during the spring and that several days before the doctor had told him that he had some Constitutionalist currency that he would sell cheap, which would give Robb an opportunity to make some easy money. “I went to Dr. Bronson’s office,” Robb said, “and he gave me 200 pesos which I was to dispose of and then pay him. This was three or four weeks ago. I took the money to Juárez and gave it to a waiter at the Black Cat to exchange for me. I sold the money for 18 cents on the peso, and gave Dr. Bronson 8 cents on the peso”.

“I asked him where he got the money and he said that was nothing to me. There was nothing said by either of us about the currency being counterfeit. I did not know whether it was good or bad currency. I got 500 pesos from him after that on two different occasions, making 1,200 pesos in all. I took 500 pesos to Juárez and gave it to a waiter to exchange for me and I was arrested. I was to have paid 10 cents on the peso for the last money I got from Dr. Bronson.”

Robb was cross-examined by the defence and shown a number of notes purported to have been confiscated in the police raid on Dr. Bronson’s office. He identified it as similar to the currency he had taken to Ciudad Juárez to dispose of. He said that he had never seen a large amount of the money concealed at Dr. Bronson’s office. He said that he had given $500 to a friend of his to dispose of and he too was arrested inCiudad  Juárez.

Another witness, Robinson, a movie actor, testified that he overheard the plan to entrap Robb and Boyce and that he saw Boyce arrested at the café. When searched, 500 pesos were found hidden in his shoes and pockets. Later, when Louie Lombardo, the waiter, was called to testify, he corroborated the testimony of Robinson that he was a party to the plan to get Robb and Boyce across the river so that they could be arrested and the alleged currency confiscated. This was done, the witness said, in an effort to secure the men who were circulating and if possible making the money.

Villa's private secretary, Luis Aguirre Benavides, was called to testify and told of the issuing of the money at the Chihuahua mint and the manner in which Villa was authorized to make the issue. Baltazar Anaya, a government employee from Ciudad Juárez, whose duty it was to examine the currency to detect counterfeit money, was called by the state as an expert. After examining exhibits of the money alleged to have been confiscated by the police in the raid on Dr. Bronson’s office, he pronounced it counterfeit and pointed out the defects.

Detective “Billy” Smith, of the city police force, said he accompanied chief of detectives Jesse Stansel to Dr. Bronson’s offices. The detective said that when they asked for the money Bronson showed them where he had it and that they confiscated the currency and arrested the doctorEl Paso Herald, 2 September 1914.

Among the issues brought up at the hearing was whether or not D. R. Fuentes, proprietor of a gambling house in Ciudad Juárez and connected with the Constitutionalist government in a semi-official position, could testify regarding the difference between the genuine and counterfeit notes, which Fuentes claimed was a government secret. Fuentes said that he could not state the differences without his chief’s consent. “I am in a way a government official in that I have a seal of the government used to stamp all illegitimate currency ‘falso,’ and to enumerate the defects of the bad currency would be to enable the counterfeiters to perfect their plant and plates so that they could issue money exactly like that issued by the government and circulated as genuine.” District Attorney P. R. Price threatened to request the court to remand Fuentes to jail for contempt, two other officials having already testified as to the differences between the different notes and he finally testifiedAlbuquerque Journal, 4 September 1914.

Dr. Bronson was released on a $5,000 bond before justice of the peace J. J. Murphy, charged on 49 separate counts of having forged instruments in his possession. The physician announced he would prove his innocence when his case came to trial in the county courtEl Paso Herald, 7 September 1914.

Candido Ortiz: Ortiz was was bound over to the grand jury on 28 October 1914 by justice of the peace, E. B. McClintock, on a charge of having counterfeit Villa currency in his possessionEl Paso Herald, 29 October 1914.

R. B. Hopkins, H. H. Smith and Alberto Sammons: In October 1914 these three were arrested on the prompting of the Mexican consul in San Antonio, Teodulo R. Beltrán. They had tried to sell $10,000 in counterfeit money to a Joe Cloud at a rate of 10c on the peso. A search of their home found $27,000 in $5  Ejército Constitucionalista notesLa Prensa, 30 October 1914: Regidor, 4 November 1914. On 27 November R. Beltrán, vice-consul (sic) in San Antonio reported that he had arranged the arrest of some counterfeiters of Constitutionalist currency, in the first case having decommissioned a large quantity of bogus notes, and in the second the plates, paper and Chihuahua notes (las piedras litográficas, papel e impresión de billetes de Chihuahua) (     ).

Carl Hoesner and  J. W. Nimben: In early November 1914 sheriffs John W. Tobin, Alfonsa Newton and John Subiera of San Antonio uncovered a factory making counterfeit Carrancista money and arrested Carl Hoesner and J. W. Nimben, who said they had been instructed to make a million pesos in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. The notes were said to resemble the genuine notes exactly and could only be identified by the serial letter and numberPrensa, 7 November 1914.

José and Emelia Delgado: In November 1914 José Delgado and his sister, Emelia Delgado, were arrested by police on the charge of passing counterfeit money. When searched by the police, Delgado had $300 worth of Villa money in his possessionEl Paso Herald, 24 November 1914.

Louis Goldbaum: In January 1915 Goldbaum was charged with attempting to pass a forged instrument. He was given a preliminary hearing before justice J. J. Murphy and was bound over to the grand jury in the sum of $3,000. Goldbaum was arrested on a complaint of A. R. Ramirez, who testified at the hearing that Goldbaum had attempted to give him counterfeit Villa money in exchange for $180 goldEl Paso Herald, 18 January 1915.

J. G. Adams: In January 1915 Adams was arrested by El Paso detectives after he had purchased a quantity of ammunition from F. J. Feldman Co., presenting $8,000 in counterfeit Villa money in payment. At police headquarters Adams denied that he had any knowledge that the money was counterfeit, claiming it was given him by a Mexican for whom he was purchasing the ammunition. A complaint charging forgery was filed in justice J. M. Deaver’s courtEl Paso Herald, 22 January 1915: El Paso Herald, 27 January 1915.

Miguel Moralez: Moralez arrived in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on the El Paso & Southwestern eastbound train at 1.35 in the morning of 22 January 1915 and registered at the Alamogordo hotel. During the day he went to the Wells Fargo express office, where he received a small box which had reached Alamogordo five days before. The box had been expressed from Schrader-Kell[  ] Company, 61-69 Carroll Street, Buffalo, New York and addressed to Miguel Rios, Alamo Gordo, New Mexico and though it contained $300,000 in Villa currency, was valued at only $75. Moralez aroused suspicion through his extreme nervousness and fidgety actions, and the fact that he signed for the box under a name differing from the one used to register at his hotel, and he was arrested in the foyer of the Alamogordo hotel that evening, by Fred Roberts, constable, and W. K. Slaleup, justice of the peace. A search located the currency which had been transferred to two suit cases: the notes were of $10, $20 and $50 denominations made into 300 packages of $1,000 each, tied with twine. The money was deposited in the vault of the First National Bank and Moralez was locked up in the county jail as a suspicious character. Chief Davis of El Paso was notified by telephone and began an investigation at his endAlbuquerque Journal, 24 January 1915. Moralez was charged with possessing counterfeit money. A detailed count revealed that the actual amount was $452,830 and Charles Owen of El Paso, an attorney representing General Villa, who examined the money, said he believed it to be counterfeit. Moralez was set to be tried in the district court, under the laws of New Mexico, and not in the federal courtEl Paso Herald, 26 January 1915: Albuquerque Journal, 26 January 1915. Moralez had a preliminary hearing before the justice of the peace, where Charles Owen represented the state, by agreement with the district attorney, who was absent, and held to await the action of the grand jury, bail being fixed at $3,000. Failing to make the bond, he was remanded to jailAlbuquerque Journal, 8 February 1915.

Gus Felix and George N. Templeman: these two were arrested in April 1915 by federal officers and found to be in possession of plates for counterfeiting Mexican currency. On 7 May they were arraigned before United States Commissioner Browne in New Orleans but discharged when the government declined to prosecute. This outcome was apparently not unexpected, although their attorney, Louis H. Burns, was prepared to fight their case on its meritsTimes-Picayune, 8 May 1915.

M. Nájera: Nájera was arrested in Brownsville, Texas on 9 October 1915 for circulating counterfeit Carrancista currency. He had four suitcases containing $4,000 in Carrancista notes and $100 in Mexican banknotes, but told Judge Kirk that he had changed the money in Laredo and did not know that it was false. He was releasedPrensa, 12 October 1915: Prensa, 16 October 1915.

Alfonso F. Arguelles: In November 1915 Arguelles’s home at 310 Chihuahua Street, El Paso, was searched by Shelley Bovee, United States secret service agent, assisted by detectives Varela, Herold and Drown of the El Paso police. Hidden under a quilt in a bed was $60,000 in counterfeit $20 Carranza notes, while in another room $15,000 in $10 and $20 notes, some of which was hidden in Mrs. Maria Arguelles’ apron, was found. A preliminary hearing was held before commissioner George B. Oliver: Enriquez Guitterez, special agent of Carranza’s treasury department, inspected the stack of notes and pronounced them counterfeit.

The raid was made through information given by Henry Gray, a secret service man for the Carranza government. A local cattleman was in the front room of the Arguelles home negotiating the sale of the currency when the raid was made. He stated that Arguelles had offered the notes at $6 gold for $1,000, whereas the market value of Carranza currency was $78 for $1,000. The complete stack, if legitimate Carranza money, would have had an American value of $5,800.

Arguelles stated he had been in El Paso for three years, that he was a refugee from Mexico, that he had worked upon the ranch of Felix Martinez, and later had gone into the money exchange business. He said he had nothing to do with the printing of the money and had merely purchased it. The notes were said to be an almost perfect duplication of the Carranza money, with the slight exception of a few proportions. It was thought that the Carranza money was photographed and that the plates were then made from the photograph by an expert engraver. The authorities believe that it came from CaliforniaEl Paso Herald, 19 November 1915.

Frank Sawyer, William Taylor and Warren Thurlow: In November 1915 Carrancista agents in Los Angeles arranged the arrest of Frank Sawyer, William Taylor y Warren Thurlow for possessing counterfeit notes of a friendly nation. Federal officers recovered an enormous quantity of notes. Three packages of allegedly bogus Carranza currency, with a face value of approximately 50,000 pesos, were confiscated. Each was released on a $500 bond San Jose Mercury News, 28 November 1915: Albuquerque Journal, 29 November 1915: Prensa, 1 December 1915.

Lorenzo Rovera Arivau and Jacinto A. Herrera Luengo: In late October 1915 Lorenzo Rovera Arivau and Jacinto Herrero Luengo, two Spaniards who were Villista agents, came to San Francisco with five lithograph stones which had been used by the Carranza government to issue currency and had been stolen from the National Palace at the time of the evacuation of Mexico City in November 1914. Apparently they tried to get local printing firms to use the stones to make notes. On 1 November Arivau and Luengo were arrested by two officials of the U.S. Secret Service and E. G. Padilla, confidential agent of the Mexican government, for a violation of section 161 of the Federal Penal Code for “having without lawful authority possession of stones from which may be printed counterfeit notes of the provisional government of Mexico”. The stones, which bore the impression of $5, $20 and $100 Gobierno Provisional de México note and the validating seal, were seized and held by the Secret Service. In view of the fact that Carranza’s government had been recognized the U.S. attorney believed this was a clear violation of section 161, even though the stones were brought into the United States prior to the recognition. In addition, the defendants admitted that they had brought the stones into the United States at El Paso without declaring them and without paying any duty, so had breached the Tariff Act of 3 October 1913Section 137 of the Act fixed an import duty of 25% on lithographic plates and stones when they are engraved so if a prosecution under section 161 was unsuccessful, they could be held in Texas for smuggling.The defendants had a hearing before the United States Commissioner and on 6 November 1915, held to answer a federal grand jurySD papers, 812.5158/31. U.S. Attorney, San Francisco to Attorney General, Washington, 10 November 1915. Prensa, 3 November 1915, has a slightly different story. The grand jury returned indictments on 14 December 1915Tucson Daily Citizen, 14 December 1915. .
On 12 February 1916 after a three day trial Arivau and Luengo were convicted on six counts of "possessing lithographic stones without lawful authority, from which may be printed in part counterfeit obligations of a foreign government, to wit, the government of Mexico". In view of the fact that they had been in jail since their arrest and other mitigating circumstances, they were sentenced to three months in prisonSD papers, 812.5158/47, Charles Warren, Assistant Attorney General to Secretary of State, 23 February 1916
On 13 July Arrendondo, Carranza’s confidential agent, wrote to the acting Secretary of State to request that the lithographic stones be returned to the Mexican government, as rightful ownerSD papers 812.5158/54.

E. B. Dellinger and R. L. Logan: On 22 December 1915 Dellinger was bound over to the grand jury in the sum of $200 on a charge of having in his possession counterfeit money of the de facto government of Mexico. R. L. Logan was arrested on the same charge. The evidence was provided to the authorities by Juan T. Burns, the local Mexican consul. The authorities were holding $21,800 in alleged counterfeit currency. Dellinger claimed that he was acting for Logan in trying to dispose of the currency, and had no idea that it was not genuineFort Worth Star-Telegram, 22 December 1915.

Robert J. Widney et al.:  On 5 January 1916 three prominent businessmen were arrested in San Francisco by Federal Secret Service agents, led by Harry M. Moffitt, and San Francisco detectives, at the suggestion of the Carrancista secret agent, J. M. Arriola.

Widney was the son of former Superior Judge R. M. Widney of Los Angeles and a man who had gained notoriety three years earlier when he was shot and dangerously wounded by Mrs. Vivien Lyons. Philip Thom and Walter S. Williams were realty and mining brokers, both of whom had  their headquarters at the office of R. L. Colburn, the mining broker.

Arriola had arranged for Widney to sell him $1,000,000 worth of counterfeit notes for $35,000 in United States money and met him in a room at the Palace Hotel. The understanding was that Arriola was to make the first purchase of $100,000 worth of ten and twenty note at 3½ cents on the dollar, the remainder of the million-dollar purchase, at the same rate, to be made at a later date, but  exactly at the moment when the sale was alleged to have been made the trap was sprungLos Angeles Times, 6 January 1916; The Deseret News, 6 February 1916; SD papers 812.5158/37 E. Arrendondo, Confidential Agent, Washington, to Secretary of State, 6 January 1916.

At a hearing before United States Commissioner Francis Krull the next day where bail was set at $1,000 each, Arriola testified that large amounts of Carranza currency, alleged to have been spurious, were bought by supposed agents of the Southern Pacific Railroad of Mexico. The purchases were said to have been made before the recognition of Carranza's de facto government. They amounted to 150,000 pesos a month and were made for several months. Arriola tracked down the men and caused their arrest. No testimony was given to show whether or not the purchasers doubted the genuineness of the money. Thom, who asserted that he acted as an innocent broker, said after the hearing that he acted as broker in the sale of 50,000 pesos of the alleged spurious money to the Southern Pacific of Mexico. He said the company’s experts passed upon it and that it was delivered to the Banco de Sonora at Nogales, Arizona Los Angeles Times, 7 January 1916; Idaho Statesman, 7 January 1916.

Thom and Widney were charged with violations of sections 27 and 160 of the Criminal Code and conspiracy to violate section 157. However, in February 1920, the U. S. attorney in charge of the case recommended that, owing to the age of the case, the absence of the Mexican witness Arriola, who was instrumental in obtaining the evidence for the government, the death of the defendant Widney and the fact that former Assistant United States Attorney Thomas, who regarded Widney as the principal defendant, recommended that the indictments be dismissed, these indictments be nolle prossed. The State Department replied that it had no objection but would be pleased to be informed as to the reason for the delay in bringing the case to trialSD papers, 812.5158/57, letter 19 February 1920.

Eneas Levi, George G. Warden, George F. Goerner: On 10 January 1916 Rowland K. Goddard, Secret Service operative stationed in Denver, received word from Edward Tyrrell, his counterpart in San Antonio, Texas, that spurious Mexican currency was supposed to have been made, or was about to be made, by the Smith-Brooke Printing Company at Denver. Mr. Goddard investigated and discovered that the company, in November, 1914, had made large quantities of paper money supposedly for the Villa government, and still had on hand some spoiled and sample sheets, as well as the zinc plates from which it was made. About 1 February 1916, three men were in Denver – George F. Goerner, an American, and Eneas Levi and George G. Warden, both Mexicans. The two Mexicans had left the city before their presence was known but Goddard took Goerner into custody and interviewed him. His story was that he had been asked by Levi and Warden to use his influence to get the Smith-Brooks Printing Company to print currency resembling Carranza’s Veracruz notes; that he had previously done business with Smith-Brooks in connection with the Villa currency, that the Smith-Brooks Company asked Goerner for an exhibition of the proper authority, and that Levi and Warden had returned to San Antonio to procure it. No arrests were made. The plates and sample currency were left with the Smith-Brooks Printing Company , but with instructions that, should any application be made to them for these plates or samples, or any propositions submitted to them for the printing of any such currency, they should at once communicate with the district attorney’s office, through Mr. GoddardSD papers, 812.5158/50, report of U.S. Attorney, Denver, 14 March 1916.

Levi, Kelly, Cicero and Cicero: On 29 September 1916 the consul in Mexico City wrote that he had been informed that a factory or shop had been established in San Antonio or San Francisco for the counterfeiting of notes of the Banco de Londres y México. The principal persons concerned were said to be named Kelly, Levi and two individuals called Cicero. It was also said that Kelly went to New Orleans carrying with him a large number of notes for the purpose of placing them on the marketSD papers, 812.5158/56.

Location of companies printing counterfeit notes

El Paso:

San Antonio: In August 1914 private detectives traced a large part of the bogus money to San Antonio, where it is thought that it was being printed from cleverly made plates which were almost an exact duplicate of the one from which the genuine notes were printed. There were only a few differences: an eight leafed daisy appeared in the upper corners of the counterfeit notes which was missing in the genuine and the seal of the genuine notes was a fraction of an inch larger than on the face of the bad notesEl Paso Herald, 5 August 1914, so these were the Ejército Constitucionalista issue. A press for printing counterfeit Carranza money was discovered and seized in San Antonio in June 1915El Paso Herald, 24 June 1915. In November Luis Padilla, private secretary of the Ministro de Hacienda, visited San Antonio to discuss a group of counterfeiters who had been arrested there. Sheriff John W. Tobin showed him the litographic plates and enormous quantity of notes that he had collected some months beforePrensa, 30 November 1915.

Fort Worth:

Los Angeles: In October 1914 it was reported that both Villa and Carranza money was being extensively counterfeited in Los Angeles and shipped to El Paso to be put into circulation. The notes were said to be of much better workmanship than any counterfeits yet seen and to almost defy detectionEl Paso Herald, 15 October 1914.


Kansas City: At the beginning of October 1914 an American approached F. D. Crabbs, president of the Union Bank Note Company, of Kansas City, with an order for 1,500,000 pesos in denominations of five, ten and twenty pesos. The American said that he represented a group whose properties had been confiscated by Villa and who wanted to recoup their losses by buying cattle or bullion with the counterfeit money and then reselling in the United States. Crabbs said that the original Villa currency they were to copy had been printed by a lithographing company in Denverpossibly Smith-Brooks. “The script was just the size of our money, with much ornamental engraving. It looked something like United States banknotes, except that the paper was without the silk threads. It bore a picture of the late Francisco Madero”. However, on advice from Washington, the company turned the order down. “The government reported that it would be no violation of any law to print the money, although there was a possibility that all parties concerned would be liable if the mails were used.”Kansas City Star, 31 October 1914; Prensa, 3 November 1914. Apparently, two other printers also turned down the jobKansas City Star, 24 April 1915.
However, on December 22, two Mexicans, who represented themselves to be agents of General Villa, but who were in reality accomplices of the original "ranchman", obtained the printing of two million pesos of counterfeit Villa paper money by another establishment in Kansas City. Again the report stated that the original currency had been printed in Denver, but this time, from the description they were obviously counterfeit Gobierno Provisional de México notes. “The counterfeit money was issued in 50-pesos paper notes. Across the backs of each bill was printed “Provisional Government of Mexico, Mexico, October 20, 1914.” On both lower corners of the face of these bills were printed “Series E.” The counterfeit bills are exact reproductions of the original Villa money of that denomination both as to the texture of the paper used and the lithographing”Kansas City Star, 24 April 1915.

Chicago: On 20 January 1915 George C. Carothers, the U.S. special envoy, via Zachary Cobb, the Collector of Customs at El Paso, telegraphed the Secretary of State that Villa had received information that the Columbia Bank Note Company of Chicago had accepted an order for three million pesos in notes imitating the Chihuahua issue. Those placing the order had claimed authority from Villa but Villa stated that he had given no such authority and requested the Americans’ assistance in stopping deliverySD papers, 812.00/14272. The State Department contacted the Columbia Bank Note Company on 26 January, asking for information about who had ordered the notes, when and to whom they were to be delivered, and any other particularsSD papers, 812.5158/16 and received a reply the same day that the company had received no such order and had no information about it. The news was relayed back to Carothers via CobbSD papers, 812.5158/17. Of course, the printers could have been lying.
Villa mentions the Columbia Bank Note Company in a letter he wrote in May 1915 to Lazaro de la Garza in response to one from de la GarzaLG papers, 1-J-10 Villa, Aguascalientes, to de la Garza, El Paso, 1 May 1915 in reply to 1-J-9 but it is obvious from the context that he meant the Norris Peters Company.


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