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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

FDA Raids Warehouse, Seizes $700,000 Worth of Vapes 

On April 30, the FDA revealed it had spearheaded a raid on a warehouse in Alhambra, California. In the press release[mtn]C. for T. Products, “FDA, DOJ Seize Over $700,000 Worth of Unauthorized E-Cigarettes,” FDA, 2024, Accessed: May 10, 2024. [Online]. Available: https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/ctp-newsroom/fda-doj-seize-over-700000-worth-unauthorized-e-cigarettes[/mtn], the FDA stated it worked in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to organize the seizure, which employed armed guards from the U.S. Marshals Service. 

According to the FDA, the raid resulted in more than 45,000 unauthorized e-cigarettes, which are estimated to be worth somewhere in the region of $703,000. The products were “mostly flavored, disposable e-cigarette products, including youth-appealing brands such as Puff Bar/Puff, Elf Bar/EB Design, Esco Bar, Kuz, Smok, and Pixi.” 

Although the raid was initially intended to target MDM Group (a vape distributor that goes by the name Eliquidstop.com online), the FDA later discovered that “several firms may have an ownership interest in the unauthorized e-cigarettes seized.” 

The raid was not without warning. In May 2023, the FDA issued a warning letter to MDM Group[mtn]C. for T. Products, “MDM Group Inc. d/b/a Eliquidstop.com – 653608 – 05/31/2023,” FDA, 2023. https://www.fda.gov/inspections-compliance-enforcement-and-criminal-investigations/warning-letters/mdm-group-inc-dba-eliquidstopcom-653608-05312023[/mtn] outlining the law and ordering the company to cease illicit operations. The FDA has often been accused of failing to follow through with its promises, but not in this case. In January 2024, the FDA reinspected MDM Group and discovered that it was still manufacturing and distributing illegal e-cigarettes. 

The exact date of the raid is unclear, although we know that it came after April 5, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles filed a civil forfeiture complaint in the Central California U.S. District Court on the FDA’s behalf.

Disposables are one of the biggest thorns in the FDA’s side. Despite attempts to lock disposable vapes behind a wall of Premarket Tobacco Product Applications (PMTAs) and Market Denial Orders (MDOs), the FDA has had little success in eradicating disposables from the market completely. 

Just last year, the FDA made headlines when it seized 1.4 million e-cigarettes at Los Angeles Airport totaling an estimated $1.8 million. Despite being less than half the size of that raid, the most recent California raid shows a seemingly newfound determination to make good on long-standing promises. 

“Removing unauthorized tobacco products from the supply chain is one of many enforcement tools we can use,” said Jill Atencio, J.D., Acting Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. She went on to say that the “FDA will continue to take appropriate action across the entire supply chain against unauthorized tobacco products.” 

The FDA also made clear that it has issued around 670 warning letters to firms for manufacturing and/or distributing illegal vapes, as well as 550 warning letters to retailers who sell illegal vapes. 

It seems that the FDA has finally found its footing, meaning this raid could mark the start of a new era of punitive enforcement. Previous to this raid, the FDA’s warning letters provoked little reaction. Now, it is clear that manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers who ignore warning letters might receive a visit from an FDA representative or, even worse, an armed U.S. Marshal.

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Lexi Burgess
Lexi Burgess
I keep my ear to the ground to report on Vaping, emerging health research, and new vape legislation. When the ever-changing landscape of the vape industry isn’t on my mind, I play badminton and read old horror novels.
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