Last month, Wisconsin police arrested Tyler and Jacob Huffhines, two brothers in their early 20s who cops believe were manufacturing and selling as many as 5,000 illegal THC vape cartridges every day. Upon raiding the brothers' home, cops seized $59,000 in cash, eight guns, nine mobile phones, weed, cocaine, and assorted drug paraphernalia.
Cops also raided a condo in nearby Bristol, where they believe the brothers were manufacturing the illegal carts. At the condo, police seized 31,200 THC-filled vape carts, nearly 100,000 empty carts, 57 mason jars filled with THC oil, money counting machines, and assorted paraphernalia. Upon further investigation, law enforcement discovered that the young mens’ mother may have played a major role in the criminal operation.
Prosecutors believe that Courtney Huffhines, a real estate agent, rented the condo using identity information stolen from a man in Las Vegas. "We believe she is right in the mix of this entire operation," said Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth to FOX6 News. "She had rented it, ultimately, to her two boys under a fake name.” Police raided her office, and found a locked cabinet containing cooking pots, hot plates, and vape carts.
Police informants told prosecutors that the Huffhines brothers paid them $20 an hour to manufacture illegal vape carts in their mother's real estate office. Officers now believe that the brothers were using their mother's office to make black market vapes for 2-4 weeks before relocating to the condo in Bristol.
One informant said that Courtney encouraged her sons "to start investing in real estate but they told her they were making too much money making and selling the vape cartridges," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Informants reported that the brothers would sell these carts via Snapchat, and delivered them anywhere from Chicago to Minnesota.
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This Tuesday, Courtney Huffhines was charged with six felonies in connection with the operation, including: maintaining a drug trafficking place, identity theft, and being party to the crime of possession of over 10,000 grams of THC with intent to deliver. Her bail has been set at $100,000, and her preliminary hearing scheduled for October 11th.
The Centers for Disease Control now believe that the recent outbreak of vaping-related illness that has taken 12 lives and sickened over 800 is being caused by illegal THC vapes. It is currently unknown whether the Huffhines' homemade vape carts contained any of the additives or pesticides that officials believe are responsible for the illness — but authorities have been ramping up their efforts to raid any and all illegal vape manufacturers since the illness has been spreading.