Two brothers in Wisconsin have been charged in a large-scale counterfeit ring that manufactured thousands of THC vaping cartridges a day – believed to be one of the largest of its kind nationwide, authorities said.
Tyler Huffhines, 20, and 23-year-old brother Jacob Huffhines flew to California on Labor Day weekend with a plan for Tyler to use $300,000 he packed in a suitcase to buy 40 to 50 jars of THC oil for an illegal vaping manufacturing business that pumped out as many as 5,000 counterfeit cartridges a day, according to a criminal complaint obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Some were labeled with names like Chronic Sour Patch and the batch included fruit-flavored varieties.
Tyler Huffhines admitted launching the multimillion-dollar scheme in January 2018 after seeing a potential moneymaker in THC vape cartridges sold in California for $2.50 apiece, which he could then flip in Wisconsin for $15 each, prosecutors allege.
Huffhines even posted photos of himself on Snapchat while flying in first class to California on Aug. 28. Detectives in Waukesha had been monitoring Huffhines’ social media account and were already privy to his plans, the Kenosha News reports.
The brothers were arrested on Sept. 5 after police executed search warrants at their family’s home in Paddock Lake and a condo in Bristol that Tyler Huffhines allegedly rented under a false name.
The total street value of the seized THC cartridges exceeded $1.5 million. Investigators also recovered 98,000 unfilled cartridges, as well as $59,000 in cash, 57 jars filled with refined liquid THC and more than 18 pounds of marijuana, the Kenosha Sheriff’s Department announced last week.
Tyler Huffhines was charged Monday with maintaining a drug trafficking house, identity theft and possession of THC with intent to deliver over 10,000 grams. He is being held on $500,000 bond, jail records show.
Jacob Huffhines, who is facing gun and drug charges, remained held without bond Tuesday. He was on probation at the time of his arrest for dealing cocaine and told police he traveled to California with his brother to buy the THC oil, the Kenosha News reports.
An investigation into how directly involved Jacob Huffhines was in the operation is ongoing, Kenosha County Lt. Eric Klinkhammer told The Post.
“We believe they’re both involved,” Klinkhammer said by phone Tuesday.
An attorney for Tyler Huffhines, meanwhile, said Monday during his initial court appearance that there’s no evidence connecting the young man to the spate of vaping-related illnesses across the country that have killed at least six people and sickened more than 300 nationwide.
“There have been no deaths in Wisconsin,” attorney Mark Richards said.
But Huffhines allegedly admitted to boosting his profits in the scheme by switching to manufacturing the cartridges with 10 workers he hired rather than buying them as prepackaged units in California.
“You invest more, you make more,” Huffhines said, according to the criminal complaint. “No risk, no reward.”