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Wisconsin man arrested for involvement in 'empire of illegal drugs,' police say

KENOSHA, Wis. - Police arrested a Wisconsin man Thursday for suspected involvement in an illegal THC cartridge manufacturing operation, according to law enforcement officials.

Kenosha County prosecutors said 20-year-old Tyler Huffhines had employees make cartridges that were packaged to look professionally done. Authorities said the employees filled about 3,000 to 5,000 cartridges per day. The cartridges were sold for $16 each.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Kenosha Drug Operations Group and other agencies executed search warrants at two homes last week. During the searches, they found $59,000 in cash, eight firearms and ammunition, 31,200 vape cartridges filled with THC ready for shipment and 57 mason jars filled with what Huffhines claimed was THC oil, according to Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth.

"Of this type, it's the largest we've ever had [in Kenosha County], and as far as I know, it's probably one of the largest in the country," Beth said.

Waukesha Police Department Capt. Dan Baumann said they first received a tip when two Waukesha community members — a mother and father — came in to the station with their high-school-age son in July. Through their cooperation, Waukesha police were able to work five tiers up through the operation, which eventually led them into Kenosha County, where the Huffhines' operation was based.

Huffhines is in custody for alleged manufacture, distribution and delivery of marijuana THC - more than 10,000 grams, possession with the intent to manufacture, distribute deliver marijuana THC of more than 10,000 grams, keeping and maintaining a drug house and unauthorized use of an individual's personal identification information, according to Beth.

The investigation is ongoing, and law enforcement is still searching for other people who may have been involved in the operation, Beth said.

The arrest comes as health officials investigate 450 possible cases in 33 states where vaping was linked to a severe lung disease. Health officials have warned against buying counterfeit vaping cartridges. It's unknown if the Wisconsin operation has been linked to any illnesses.
 

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