Baby Formula and Organized Crime: An Unlikely Combination - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/22/02 - White Oak

Baby Formula and Organized Crime: An Unlikely Combination

Thieves involved with a ring believed to be based out of Houston are using baby formula as a way to make money.

"A very wide ranging operation involving a number of states, and millions of dollars in thefts."  That's how White Oak Assistant Police Chief Wes Harris describes the problem nationwide.

There is a lot of money to be made, and from the top down in these crime organizations.  They know the best place to steal it is small towns.  They can be in and out... fast.

Driving down Highway 80 on Monday... four Mexican nationals that police say have ties to a Houston theft ring allegedly had their sights set on the White Oak Brookshire's.  An alert store manager thwarted what could have been the theft of more than a thousand dollars worth of formula. 

"It's pretty apparent that these people are being sent out in teams to try and commit the thefts, but they're probably making a very small commission off this."

Harris says the group's method's are simple.

"[They] take empty backpacks into the store and fill them up with the cans of baby formula and walk out the door with them."

The profits are huge.

"There's 107 cans in these boxes from the last arrest that we'd make." That's at thirteen dollars a can.

"Some of this baby formula is going to the Houston area, and it is being resold there. It's possible some of it is being shipped out of the country and being sold as well."

Possibly to the middle east, Harris says. What the suspects have said leads them to that belief, though the suspects have given them very little other information.

As those arrested keep mum... it makes it tougher to get to the root of the problem.

Thefts have also been reported in Athens, Terrell, Longview, and Gladewater.

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