DEA and FDA Shut Down 44 Websites Advertising Illicit Vaping Cartridges

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Forty-four website domains were busted for allegedly selling illegal vaping cartridges with THC and other adulterated substances.

The efforts were part of “Operation Vapor Lock” executed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other agencies, including law enforcement partners, to tackle health issues resulting from use of illegal vaping products.

“In the wake of recent injuries and deaths caused by vaping products, these seizures send a message to anyone seeking to capitalize on this dangerous trend,” Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said. “DEA will continue to work in lockstep with FDA and other federal, state, and local partners to use all our authorities to pursue anyone that violates our laws and puts Americans in harm’s way.”

All the websites in question are now being redirected to a page that tells visitors that the domain has been terminated by U.S. authorities over federal law infringement.

“We need to fully understand the causes of vaping related lung injuries,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn. “Moreover, it is a federal crime to advertise the sale of illicit THC vaping cartridges online, and by seizing these websites today, we are able to focus on other online and in-person sources of illegal and potentially dangerous vaping products. As more information comes to light in this complex and evolving investigation, we remain committed to taking further appropriate actions with our federal, state and local partners.”

Some of the webpages advertised the vaporizers with THC data levels beside the picture, making it clear that the items contained controlled substances under federal law.

According to the DEA, the investigation revealed that many of the products ordered at the websites were not being delivered after charging the buyer.

Some other webpages have not been identified as scams but have not yet delivered the ordered products.

According to the DEA, vaping has become a public health threat in the United States. The vaping of illicit substances is a more concerning trend on the rise due to troubling data that has shown dozens of deaths and thousands of lung injuries in recent months.

The exact causes of the injuries are not completely clear and are being investigated by the Food and Drug Administration and other health agencies.

THC, or delta-9-terahydrocannabinol, is the main constituent in the cannabis plant that produces psychoactive effects. Psychological and physical effects of vaping high concentrations of THC may be more intense than plant marijuana use.” The DEA webpage states, adding that vaping a concentrated doses can cause effects “including paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Many users prefer vaping because it is smokeless, odorless and easy to hide or conceal. The long-term effects of vaping high concentrations of THC are not yet fully known.”


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