Wisconsin brothers accused of operating bootleg vape cartridge ‘empire’ hit with felony drug charges
A Wisconsin man accused of manufacturing fake vaping cartridges filled with THC oil has been charged with five felonies in connection with the “empire of illegal drugs” he allegedly ran with his brother.
Tyler Huffhines was charged on Monday in Kenosha County Court with three counts of possession with intent to deliver THC of more than 10,000 grams, maintaining a drug trafficking place and identity theft for financial gain, according to court documents obtained by WTMJ.
His 23-year-old brother, Jacob Huffhines was also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, violating probation and cocaine possession – marking his second offense – in addition to two misdemeanors.
The siblings were arrested on Sept. 5 after authorities received a tip from a confidential informant, who named 20-year-old Tyler Huffhines the head of the illegal enterprise, according to court documents. Police said the brothers, along with their 10 employees, loaded up vape cartridges with THC oil and then sold them for about $20 apiece starting in January 2018.
They operated the business out of a condo in the village of Bristol, located about 40 miles south of Milwaukee. A raid of the facility earlier this month turned up 18 pounds of marijuana, 57 mason jars each containing more than 1,600 ounces of liquid THC, three money counting machines and more than 100,000 vape cartridges – both empty and full.
Authorities also discovered $59,000 in cash, eight guns and ammunition, 10.6 grams of marijuana and a small amount of cocaine and Xanax at the Paddock Lake home where they live with their mother and grandfather.
The elder Huffhines allegedly told police that he put all of his profit back into his drug operation.
“You invest more, you make more,” he said, per court documents. “No risk, no reward.”
The charges against the brothers come amid widespread concern about vaping and its side effects. Officials have linked at least seven deaths and hundreds of lung-related illnesses to the habit in recent months.
In response, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced his plans to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to young consumers after the White House similarly floated banning the sale of non-tobacco flavored electronic cigarettes.
Huffhines’ attorney, Mark Richards, told the court on Monday that his client “did not get caught killing somebody. He did not get caught harming someone. But that’s what they want you to believe."
Tyler Huffhines was being held in lieu of $500,000 bond while Jacob was behind bars on $50,000.