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Kenosha County brothers charged in THC vape cartridge operation

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KENOSHA COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Kenosha County brothers accused of running a multi-million drug operation were in court on Monday. 

The Huffhines brothers are being charged with eight felonies between them. 

For 20-year-old Tyler, who Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth has called "the ringleader of the operation," it's going to take half a million dollars to get him out of bail. 

Authorities say he was manufacturing up to 5,000 vaping cartridges a day. Tyler Huffhines told officers he had ten people working for him, filling the cartridges with THC oil, the illegal active ingredient in marijuana. 

Police looking on Tyler Huffhines' Snapchat account saw he was posting videos that showed thousands of illegal THC vaping cartridges and other drugs. 

The cartridges are being tested to see if they're connected to any illnesses or deaths.

The prosecutor made a point to hammer home to the judge the scope of the Huffhines brothers' business. 

"Basically he began it with 100 cartridges, and it's now grown to a point where by my calculation, from the product that was removed from the residence, the approximate street value is 2.2 to 2.5 million dollars. This is a very, very large criminal enterprise," said Lesli Boese, Waukesha County Deputy District Attorney. 

Huffhines' lawyer said the value of the cartridges was being grossly inflated.

"A cart goes for maybe nine bucks on the street," said the Huffhines' Defense Attorney Mark Richards. "In the criminal complaint, they're talking about 35. That's ridiculous. My client has no prior criminal record. He has ties to the community."

Still, when police raided the condo the brothers rented to run their operation, they found almost 130,000 cartridges and more than 100 pounds of THC oil. In the Huffhines' family home, they found tens of thousands in cash. 

Tyler told police all the money he made was invested back into the business. 

"He took to California $300,000 in cash in a carry-on suitcase in order to buy the distillate," Boese said. "We do believe there's other money he would have access to based on the sales that we're seeing."

Police say he posted that California trip on Snapchat too.

The condo the brothers used was rented in someone else's name. Tyler told officers that for $2,000 he bought a stranger's personal information on the street, including social security number. 

Tyler's older brother, 23-year-old Jacob Huffhines, has a $50,000 cash bond. The two are co-defendants in the case. 

The Kenosha County Sheriff says the ripple effect from an operation like this needs to be closely examined. 

"There are tens or hundreds of thousands of cartridges that have been shipped out and potentially hurt or even killed people in the past, so this is a grave concern to us here in Kenosha," said Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth. 

The Sheriff also says more arrests will be made, and the investigation is far from over.

To see the full criminal complaint, see here

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