Arizona task force targets organized retail theft of baby formula, SNAP benefits
PHOENIX – Authorities revealed the results of a six-month investigation into organized retail theft in Arizona on Thursday, including thousands of cans of baby formula seized by investigators.
“Those participating in organized retail theft are on notice that in Arizona, their organizations will be disrupted, they will be apprehended, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Attorney General Kris Mayes said in a press release.
The Organized Retail Theft Task Force investigation, which is ongoing, is a joint effort of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Gilbert Police Department and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Phoenix Police Department also participated.
“Organized retail theft and fraud harms all of us, from the victims themselves to regular Arizonans facing increased prices that result from theft,” Mayes said. “I want to thank our state agency and law enforcement partners, as well as our retail partners, for their support and work on this investigation.”
In addition to 3,200 cans of baby formula, the task force uncovered the theft of approximately $1.2 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from over 2,700 victims.
More than 1,200 cloned SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards were also seized, including skimming devices and equipment used to make fake EBT cards.
“SNAP is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of Arizonans, and DES will continue to investigate all reported instances of EBT card skimming in partnership with the federal government and other law enforcement agencies,” Economic Security Director Angie Rodgers said in the release.
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