8 on Your Side: Baby formula rings may fund terrorist groups - 8 News NOW

8 on Your Side: Baby formula rings may fund terrorist groups

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LAS VEGAS - Baby formula is thriving on the black market in Las Vegas. Moms sell it. Drug addicts sell it. Even dads are in on the game. Police arrested one man who tried to smuggle baby formula out of a store in his baby’s stroller.

“I come in here and grab eight, and put it on top, and go to the bathroom, and put it on the bottom, and grab eight more, and go right over there and sell it,” he said.

Each tub of baby formula is worth $10 to $16 on the street. 8 on Your Side responded to baby formula ads on Craigslist. One ad was posted by a mother who acquired her formula via the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

“I don't have anymore, but when I do, I post it on Craigslist,” she said.

Unfortunately, the illegal sale of baby formula may have darker consequences. Organized retail theft investigator Darin Fredrickson spent the past seven years busting baby formula rings.

“Some of the baby formula theft has funded terrorism efforts overseas,” he said. “The last group we worked, there were about four layers or sales, and then it went out of state.”

Police busted one group of women as they bought formula on the streets. Police uncovered cases of formula in the women’s home. The formula was being sold to the head of an alleged black market ring in New York with possible ties to terrorism.

Sales at that level generate much more money than $50 to $100 a day.

“That's where you get into the upper echelon of the organization, and they are a tighter knit group, but they are the ones making millions of dollars a year,” Fredrickson said.

He says the formula proceeds are often sent to the Middle East.

“They are feeding their children in these other countries with the formula, but that money earned, it is going to bad, bad means,” he said.

The National Retail Federation unveiled in a 200 page report that 7 out of 10 cases of baby formula sales involve fencing operations run by citizens of Middle Eastern origin. In 2005, federal authorities busted a terrorist ring that was selling formula in the black market. The ring had potential links to HAMAS and Hezbollah.

If you have a problem you want investigated, call 8 on Your Side at 702-650-1907.

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