MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Wisconsin man suspected of running an illegal operation to manufacture vaping cartridges flew to California last month to get THC oil in bulk to fill thousands of cartridges to sell, prosecutors said Monday in charging documents.
Authorities in Kenosha, Wisconsin, arrested 20-year-old Tyler Huffhines on Sept. 5 after parents tipped off police when they saw their teenage son with one of the cartridges.
Prosecutors say Huffhines employed 10 people to fill the cartridges with THC oil at a condo he rented with a stolen identity. Police say he had been running the operation since January 2018.
His arrest came as health officials across the country investigate hundreds of cases of a severe lung disease where vaping was linked to the illness. No illnesses have been tied to Huffhines' operation, and police say tests to determine what was in Huffhines' cartridges are pending.
Huffhines' attorney, Mark Richards, declined to comment. Huffhines is being held on a $500,000 cash bond. He has not entered a plea yet.
Huffhines is charged with maintaining a drug trafficking house and three counts of possession with intent to deliver THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. He is also charged with identity theft.
Charging documents say Huffhines posted a Snapschat video of himself in first class on his flight to California, where prosecutors say he bought 50 jars of THC distillate.
Prosecutors say Huffhines told police when they arrested him that he launched his business because he saw a demand for THC cartridges and began buying THC oil from California. He said all the money he made he invested back into his business.
"You invest more, you make more. No risk, no reward," according to police who interviewed him.
Prosecutors say Huffhines told police he sold the cartridges in bulk, $15 each for a purchase of a minimum of 100 cartridges. Police said Huffhines told them he recently changed the minimum to 500 cartridges.
One detective on the case said the cartridges were then sold on the street for about $35 each.
According to charging documents, Huffhines told police he was initially paying his employees $20 an hour. But he switched to paying them 30 cents per cartridge they filled so they "would work harder" and increase their productivity.
Police also arrested Huffhines' brother, Jacob, 23, on drug and weapons charges. Investigators have not said whether he had any role in his brother's business.