In late May, Chandler residents, Rafid Khoshi and his wife, Manal Sulaiman, were arrested in connection with the theft of baby formula after an undercover investigation by Chandler Police.
According to Chandler Police Detective Seth Tyler, Chandler Police Property Crimes detectives learned in September 2018 that the 46-year-old Khoshi and his wife, 43-year-old Sulaiman, were purchasing stolen baby formula from boosters. “Boosters” (thieves) would shoplift baby formula from various Albertson’s, Basha’s, Fry’s, Safeway, Target, and Walmart stores and sell it to Khoshi and Manal for 30 to 50 cents on the dollar.
Khoshi and Sulaiman would then ship the stolen baby formula from their Chandler home to El Cajon, California and sell it to a local distributor for a profit. In all, detectives conclude Khoshi and Sulaiman shipped over 25,000 cans of baby formula to California. Using conservative numbers, this equates to around $425,000 in value.
Khoshi and Sulaiman recruited just over a dozen regular boosters from OfferUp® who supplied them with roughly 2000 cans a month of Emfamil® and Similac® brands of baby formula. One booster alone, 31-year-old Jesus Tirado Lara, sold over $46,000 worth of product to Khoshi and Sulaiman. Lara was arrested for his alleged role in this crime spree in December of 2018.
Another booster was an undercover Chandler detective. During the undercover portion of this investigation, investigators made 12 separate transactions with Khoshi. The last sale consisted of an entire pallet of baby formula valued at over $15,000.
On May 23, 2019, Khoshi and Sulaiman were arrested for their alleged involvement in these crimes. Khoshi was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on 12 counts of Trafficking in Stolen Property, 12 counts of Theft, one count of Conspiracy, one count of Fraudulent Schemes, one count of Participating in a Criminal Syndicate, and one count of Illegal Control of an Enterprise. Sulaiman was booked on two counts of Trafficking in Stolen Property, two counts of Theft, one count of Conspiracy, one count of Fraudulent Schemes, one count of Participating in a Criminal Syndicate, and one count of Illegal Control of an Enterprise.
Along with Khoshi, Sulaiman, and Lara, detectives made 13 additional arrests during this investigation. These arrests were made up of the majority of the boosters who supplied Khoshi and Sulaiman with product.
Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan said, “This investigation was one of our largest organized retail theft cases in terms of size and scope. The financial losses to the victims were great and so was the reach this criminal enterprise had in the community. I commend our Property Crimes detectives for their relentless pursuit to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion.”