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Wisconsin Man Busted for Running Illegal Vape Cart Factory

September 10, 2019
KENOSHA, WI — A Wisconsin man is accused of running a 10-man operation that manufactured thousands of counterfeit vaping cartridges loaded with THC oil every day for almost two years, authorities said.

The 10-person operation was filling up to 5,000 illegal carts a day, and selling them for $16 on the street.

Kenosha County prosecutors said 20-year-old Tyler Huffhines had employees make professionally packaged cartridges. Authorities said the employees filled about 3,000 to 5,000 cartridges per day. They sold for $16 each.

“Based on how everything was set up, this was a very high-tech operation that was running for some time,” Andrew Burgoyne, Kenosha County assistant district attorney, said during a Monday court hearing to set bond. Police said the business started in Jan. 2018.


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188 Pounds of Cannabis Seized

Police arrested Huffhines on Thursday. He was being held on a $500,000 cash bond while he awaits charges to be filed. He was due in court Friday.

His attorney, Mark Richards, did not respond to an email or a phone message left at his office.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Kenosha Drug Operations Group, and other agencies executed search warrants at two homes. The Kenosha News reported that authorities seized 188 pounds (85 kilograms) of cannabis, eight firearms, THC oil, and about $20,000 in cash.

Illegal Vape Carts Tied to Health Crisis

The arrest comes as health officials investigate 450 possible cases in 33 states where vaping has been linked to a severe lung disease. Kansas reported its first death tied to the outbreak on Friday. Nationwide, as many as six people have died.

Health officials have warned against buying counterfeit vaping cartridges. It’s unknown if the Wisconsin operation has been linked to any illnesses.

No single vaping device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to all the illnesses. Recent attention has been focused on devices, liquids, refill pods and cartridges that are not sold in stores.

Unknown Ingredients in These Carts

New York state has focused its investigation on an ingredient called vitamin E acetate, which has been used to thicken cannabis vape juice but is considered dangerous if heated and inhaled.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also investigating vitamin E acetate, but officials said they’re looking at several other ingredients as well. Last week, the CDC warned against buying vaping products off the street because the substances in them may be unknown. The agency also warned against modifying vaping products or adding any substances not intended by the manufacturer.

This isn’t the first time Huffhines has made it into the headlines. Last year, the Kenosha News wrote a feature story about him when he was an 18-year-old Central High School student, selling athletic shoes online. The story’s headline was “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

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  • Moon Love

    Saying keep his ass locked up is pretty much telling between tens of thousands and millions of people of people that can’t afford to pay between $500-$3500 a month for expensive regulated medical cannabis, to suck a fat one.

    If these carts were killing people, they would have known by now, and the fact that people were dying would be 100% of the reason they were investigating the dude.
    He’s been pushing 3000-5000 carts a day for almost 2 years, that’s in the ballpark of 2.4 million cartridges, if they were super unsafe, more likely than not, there would have been at least 240-2400 people severely injured or dead between minnesota and wisconsin.

    It’s easy to say ignorant things like that.
    But when you know a lot of people who make poverty level money that struggle to get by, that use cannabis to improve their quality of life just like anyone else with a prescription, it’s actually nice to know that somebody out there is making an affordable product for them to buy.

    Cuz to be real, I’ve known a few too many people that have killed themselves in the past, and the last thing I want is to have a friend or loved one off themselves if life gets rough or something to that extent.

    In addition to that, cannabis can be far more effective than standard medications for certain ailments for a fairly large amount of people.

  • Moon Love

    In my opinion, that’s an incredibly ignorant and shallow point of view, given the information at hand.
    If he was killing people, or intentionally putting dangerous substances in their I would agree with you.

    I know people who likely would have killed themselves if it wasn’t for cannabis, and that being said, most people I know don’t have enough money for the medical cannabis program in Minnesota (for example the one medical kind of “dab” we have is $230 per gram, that is not a reasonable price that an average low income person could afford.

    If there is some deeper point that you have other than callously smiling on another’s misfortune, I’m more than happy to listen to your viewpoint.