Middle Eastern criminal enterprises involved in the organized theft and resale of infant formula in the USA are using illegal immigrants to
The use of illegal immigrants from Honduras and Mexico as "boosters" who use false ID by Middle Eastern criminal enterprises is growing (see March 2009 arrests Central Florida) and moving onto the internet, EBay recently carried more than 1,000 offers of Enfamil baby formula on their website.
Abdul Hakim Azzam has been involved in buying and selling large quantities of stolen infant formula in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and throughout the United States. The FBI has numerous ongoing national investigations which have identified retail theft groups, fences, wholesalers, and distributors operating nationwide who are involved in the theft and fencing of infant formula. In February 2002, Abdul hakim AZZAM of Milwaukee, Wisconsin was identified as a subject of this investigation.FBI developed information that revealed AZZAM and his nephew, Mahmoud Bassar, a/k/a “Mack,” were purchasing stolen infant formula and over-the-counter medications from fences in North Carolina and Atlanta Georgia. Shipments of stolen infant formula were transported from North Carolina and Atlanta Georgia to AZZAM in Milwaukee by means of interstate commercial freight carriers, and were consigned to Penny Saver Food Market. AZZAM operates a small grocery store at 510 West Vine Street in Milwaukee named “Penny Saver Food Market.”
AZZAM also wrote checks from the Penny Saver Food Market bank account to obtain significant amounts of cash to pay off the retail theft groups (immigrants from Honduras and Mexico) and fences in North Carolina and Georgia.
On January 10, 2005, Jose Vidal Castellanos made the following statements to law enforcement officials in North Carolina regarding the theft and sale of stolen infant formula Castellanos met Abdul AZZAM and Mahmoud Bassar approximately four years ago in North Carolina where they negotiated the arrangement to work together buying and selling stolen infant formula.
On January 10, 2005, cooperating defendant Jose Gomez Borjas (“Gomez”) made the following statements to law enforcement officials in North Carolina regarding the theft and sale of stolen infant formula: Gomez stated there was a lot of competition among “Arabs” for the stolen infant formula. Gomez sold to whoever paid the best price for the products. Gomez used ABF Freight to ship the stolen infant formula from North Carolina and Georgia to AZZAM and Bassar. Gomez used the Penny Saver name on the paperwork as the shipper and receiver.
In March 2009 twenty one immigrants from Honduras and Mexico were arrested in Central Florida (Orlando) they had been involved in a 5 year and $17.5 million dollar Stolen Infant formula theft ring part of a nationwide baby formula theft ring.
All of the suspects were in the country illegally and came to Florida from Atlanta, Ga., simply to steal baby formula, according to the press release.
They were all paid between $100 and $300 a day for the thefts. Those arrested were: Nery Rodriguez, 24; Johny Zuniga, 23; Jose Urrutia, 26; Lucia Reyes, 30; Melba Ovellana, 31; Carlos Chacon, 22; Dania Hernandez, 24; Nelson Matute, 24; Carlos Hernandez, 23; Silvia Hernandez, 18; Neolvy Garcia, 24; Alexander Ponce, 25; Jefery Colindres, 20; Jose Chirinos-Hernandez, 25; Carmen Banega-Castillo, 22; Jessie Lopez, 36; Blanca Sevilla, 41; Eli Nimrod Castillo-Almendarez, 29; Eber Ramon Escalante-Almendarez, 19; David Ruiz, 26; and Sonya Ponce, 27.
Blanca Sevilla, 41, was arrested Jan. 7 by the Sebring Florida Police Department on charges of petty theft, felony battery and giving a false ID to a law enforcement officer. Castillo-Almendarez was reportedly renting a storage unit in Orlando. The stolen formula was shipped from Florida to North Carolina and Atlanta GA for repackaging and selling.