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Police arrest three in major counterfeit bust

Posted at 8:47 AM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 20:15:41-05

Tucson Police have uncovered a sophisticated counterfeit scheme in midtown that involved thousands of dollars in fake cash, weapons and drugs. 

As part of the investigation, police arrested 21-year-old Joshua Blake, 19-year-old Cody Anderson and 34-year-old Krista Blanchard. 

Blake and Anderson were arrested after SWAT officers served a search warrant at their home in the 1400 block of North Cloverland Avenue. 

"I said what my goodness is going on and they said they had a warrant to search this house and they wanted everybody out," said a woman who lives at the home and is related to one of the suspects. To protect her identity, we are not showing her face or using her name. 

Police say they seized multiple firearms, counterfeit currency, cocaine, crystal meth and drug paraphernalia at the home. The woman tells 9OYS she had no idea what they were keeping in her house. 

"They took guns out of here and they took fake money and here he was passing fake money and they had all these guns and I just didn't know any of it," she said. 

She says because of health issues, she doesn't walk around the home much and never went into the rooms where the evidence was found. 

Anderson was arrested at the home, and police say they found Blake near Grant and Craycroft with more than 40 fake $100 bills on him. 

"This was such a shock to me and of course his mother is devastated because she's losing her baby," said the woman who lives in the home. 

Police say they learned in November that local retailers were receiving counterfeit $100 bills. 9OYS spoke with one of the original officers on the case, Jason Kerns. He and his partner Clark Burnett were contacted by one of the major retailers who started to notice a pattern of fake bills. 

"We would get heads up 'hey they're in the store' or 'hey they just came in and passed some more," said Kerns. 

Police later served a search warrant at an apartment in the 4800 block of East Pima Street where they found weapons and the equipment used to make the fake money. At the apartment, they arrested 34-year-old Krista Blanchard. 

"These were good quality bills," said Tucson Police Sgt. Rick Radinsky. "It wasn't just unwilling clerks or it was dark and nobody happened to check the money. We have video and some of the video shows clerks checking the money doing everything that we do when we pass a normal bill it passed the test and so they accepted it." 

All three suspects were booked into Pima County Jail. Anderson faces charges of fraud schemes and artifices, trafficking in stolen property and six counts of forgery. Blake faces charges of fraud schemes and artifices, trafficking in stolen property, aggravated assault with a firearm and five counts of forgery. Blanchard faces charges of fraud schemes and artifices, four counts of forgery and counterfeiting and possession of a forgery device.

The U.S. Secret Service is also involved in the case and is trying to learn exactly how far the fake bills traveled.