CINCINNATI — Employees of a Colerain Township convenience store paid people to steal baby formula so they could ship it across the country and resell it, federal authorities said Thursday.
Authorities arrested three Butler County men: Khalil Yacub, 44, Khalil Jaghama and Jasser Saleh, 41, Thursday morning in connection to the conspiracy. Yacub’s family owns the Pit Stop on Galbraith Road, according to an affidavit.
Besides raiding the store, FBI agents also burst through the doors of Yacub’s Liberty Township home before dawn, neighbors said.
“When I came out at about 5:30 a.m., some of neighbors couldn’t go to work because they couldn't get their cars out of their driveway,” said Sheila O'Connell. "It was just cars, cars, cars, cars … people all over the place."
O'Connell said agents took several boxes, bags and containers from Yacub’s home. Yacub lived there with his wife and two children, but the family pretty much kept to themselves, O'Connell said.
“This is a really quiet neighborhood,” O’Connell said. “These people are very quiet, very private. Nobody in the neighborhood really knows them.”
Yacub, Jaghama and Saleh paid “individuals (often drug addicts)" to work as "boosters" to steal the baby formula, federal officials said. The three men would take a photo of the sellers’ ID to discourage them from contacting police. The defendants also used a handgun and stun guns to control the sellers.
Federal officials estimated the defendants stored and shipped hundreds of cans of baby formula for resale across the country from 2017 to 2019. On June 30, one woman brought 40 cans of baby formula to the Pit Stop to be sold. The sellers, for example, might sell “cans of stolen baby formula to the Pit Stop for $5 per can,” authorities said.
The suspects used a storage facility to warehouse the stolen formula. A GPS monitor placed on a can of Enfamil showed that the formula was transported to the West Coast.
Yacub, Jaghama and Saleh stand charged with conspiring to transport, transporting stolen goods and unlawful possession of a means of identification. If convicted on all charges, they could face up to 20 years in prison.