Most young parents will tell you that baby formula is so expensive it could be made out of gold. But for Tam Huynh and Thuy Nguyen, it was basically the equivalent of poker chips and narcotics.
That's the story told by the Jefferson County District Attorneys Office in the wake of the couple's guilty pleas in relation to a labyrinthine formula-theft ring that led to their being nicknamed the Enfamil Bandits. Along with a gaggle of conspirators, they stole an estimated $20,000 worth of formula from area stores like Target, then resold it, using the profits for "their daily living expenses, gambling and illegal drugs." That ain't kid stuff.
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See a photo of Thuy Nguyen and get additional details below:
Guilty Plea for Ringleader of "Enfamil Bandits"
The ringleaders of a group tagged the "Enfamil Bandits", entered a guilty plea in Jefferson County Court. Tam Huynh, 46, of Aurora, pled guilty to racketeering, a violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act on March 19. This is a class two felony. Huynh's wife, Thuy (Tien) Nguyen, 39, was also in court on March 19 and pled guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Theft, a class five felony.
Huynh and Nguyen were indicted in August 2009 along with seven others for operating a criminal enterprise in which they stole over $20,000 worth of baby formula from merchants in the Denver metropolitan area and Colorado Springs and then sold it at a discount price.
Between January 2008 though March 2009 members of the enterprise went into retail stores, filled shopping carts with baby formula, and then left the stores without paying for the items. These items would then be given to members of the group who would resell the stolen baby formula through the Internet or other private sales.
Some members of the criminal enterprise recruited people to steal the products, some stole the items, and others acted as lookouts. Tam Huynh and Thuy Nguyen acted as the "fences" finding buyers and handling the sale and distribution of the stolen baby formula.
The operation came to the attention of law enforcement after investigators at Target, who suffered the greatest losses, notice the repeated theft of baby formula. The District Attorney's investigators worked closely with the Aurora Police and the Lakewood Police Departments for months until the first indictment was returned in June, 2009.
Proceeds from the illegal enterprise were shared among the members of the group for their daily living expenses, gambling and illegal drugs.
The victim merchants include Target, Safeway, Albertson's, King Soopers and Wal-Mart. Huynh and Nguyen will be sentenced on May 3, 2010. The others who were indicted are in various stages of the court process.