Special unit busts small crime syndicate, confiscates counterfeit cash

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PHOENIX -- An anonymous tip led special investigators to thousands of dollars in counterfeit cash stashed in a West Valley hotel.

$55,000 in funny money

Police bust small crime syndicate, confiscate counterfeit cash - An anonymous tip led special investigators to thousands of dollars in counterfeit cash stashed in a West Valley hotel.

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Detectives confiscated more than $55,000 in funny money and took three people into custody.

It all went down at the Comfort Suites near 83rd Avenue and McDowell Road.

The anonymous tip, surveillance video and investigative leads helped the unit bust a small crime syndicate.

"It's extremely important to get counterfeit money not only off the streets because it hurts the individuals being fed this money, whether it's a business owner or other individuals who are using the money that they think may be legitimate for a transaction," said Harold Sander of the Department of Public Safety. "This hurts the economy considerably and it throws off what we call the economic balance,"

Ronferi Gregorio Martinez and Esli Espina-Espina were taken into custody. Both are facing a variety of charges, including conspiracy, fraudulent schemes and forgery.

A third suspect -- a juvenile -- was also caught. There's no word yet on what charges that person might face.