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It's been called one of the largest money laundering schemes in Colorado history.

A major shoplifting operation in Colorado has been uncovered and several "key players" have been arrested as part of an investigation that started in 2019.

More Than 430,000 Items Stolen

More than 430,000 stolen items have been recovered and seven suspects are facing charges including money laundering, theft, and illegal mailing of contraband through the U.S. Postal Service. The estimated value of the stolen items is $1.7 million with an estimated loss of $5.2 million dollars

At a press conference Tuesday, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said several major retailers assisted in the investigation including Albertson's, Safeway, Walmart, Home Depot, King Soopers,  Target, Lowe's,  Sephora, Vitamin Cottage, Whole Foods, and Ulta.

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Ring Leaders Are Foreigners

Spurlock said a number of undercover operations and buys led their investigative task force to seven key individuals - all of which came from out of the United States, mainly eastern European countries. Associates were brought in from overseas to help steal products from stores. Spurlock said the stolen items such as cosmetics, birth control, and small tools were then sold online at a lower price.

In addition to the stolen product, Spurlock said the investigation uncovered more than $100,000 in gold, $108,000 in cash, cell phones, and generators.

Exercise Caution When Shopping Online

Most of us have shopped online and have found some great deals. Everybody wants to save money whenever possible. However, Sheriff Spurlock cautioned consumers shopping online to investigate the source. It's possible your purchase could be contributing to a money-laundering operation. These schemes are operating all across the country.

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