Corner stores turned EBT cards into cash for drugs, wired profit to Yemen, authorities say
A couple of steaks shoplifted at a Gardendale Walmart three months ago led to the biggest food stamp fraud investigation in Jefferson County’s history, and launched 11 simultaneous raids this morning at convenience stores countywide.
Led by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, teams of law enforcement officers met at 5 a.m. for a briefing and then fanned out across the county beginning at 6:50 a.m. The officers and agents were armed with 242 arrest warrants and plans to arrest 17 suspects.
All 17 suspects were in custody by mid-morning, and investigators already today have filed for forfeiture and condemnation of those 11 stores, which totals more than $1 million in assets.
“This is huge for us,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls.
The massive probe, dubbed Operation T-bone, targeted those they say have been cheating the food stamp system to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars and sending at least some of the profits via wire transfer to Yemen.