The FBI arrested four San Diego residents Thursday for allegedly conspiring to buy, transport and sell stolen cases of baby formula.
The newly-released indictment accused a total of six suspects -- including 55-year-old alleged ringleader Saad Yohanan of San Diego -- of purchasing stolen infant formula.
Additional local suspects include Escondido residents Yusuf Ghazi Abu Dawas, 33, Anas Abudawwas, 28, and Encinitas resident Eyad Ibrahim Abu Dawas, 41.
Ashraf Sulaiman, 38, of Alhambra, Calif., and Khair Zaben, 48, of Fontana, Calif., were also arrested.
Invetigators said the suspects were buying the formula from someone they believed to be a stolen goods supplier.
However, the FBI said their supplier was actually an undercover federal agent who arranged and executed the sale of thousands of cases of infant formula and other items to the defendants. The items given to the suspects in undercover meetings were delivered directly by the manufacturer to law enforcement to aid in the investigation.
According to the FBI, the suspects would resell the supposedly stolen infant formula to individuals and businesses across the country at significantly higher prices.
The indictment said this stolen formula ring began at an unknown date and continued through July 2011.
In addition to the arrests, federal search warrants were served in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.
Investigators seized more than $750,000 from bank accounts related to the formula fraud, as well as cases of baby formula worth an estimated value of more than $500,000.
If convicted, the defendants could face five to 10 years in federal prison for each count, the FBI said.
The defendants will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.