Los Angeles Vape District A Black-Market Gateway

The vaping industry is under scrutiny as more people fall ill with a mysterious respiratory illness linked to e-cigarette use. Health officials are investigating more than 1,600 cases in 49 states and the District of Columbia, including 34 deaths. In California, more than 135 residents have fallen ill, at least three of whom died, according to the California Department of Public Health. Photo: Heidi de Marco/California Healthline.

CALIFORNIA – A five-block section of downtown Los Angeles that used to be part of the city’s Toy District has become ground zero for the nation’s counterfeit cannabis trade. While a few remaining stores sell fidget spinners and stuffed animals, the majority are hawking vape cartridges, e-juice flavors, vaporizers and other wholesale smoking and vaping supplies — including knockoffs that originated in China.

The vaping industry is under scrutiny as more people fall ill with a mysterious respiratory illness linked to e-cigarette use. Health officials are investigating more than 1,600 cases in 49 states and the District of Columbia, including 34 deaths. In California, more than 135 residents have fallen ill, at least three of whom died, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Although it’s unclear what exactly is causing the illness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said most of the patients used products containing THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana — particularly from products obtained off the street, from friends or family, or from illicit dealers.

In Los Angeles, some shop owners blame the vaping illnesses on untested products and devices sold to consumers on the black market — even though some are themselves part of that distribution chain.


FIGHT BIG TECH: CONTRIBUTE $$$ TO "HELP HOLD BIG-TECH ACCOUNTABLE"

Big Tech is using a content filtering system for online censorship. Take a few moments and watch our short video about NewsGuard to learn how they control the narrative for the Lamestream Media and help keep you in the dark. NewsGuard works with Big-Tech to make it harder for you to find certain content they feel is 'missing context' or stories their editors deem "not in your best interest" - regardless of whether they are true and/or factually accurate. They also work with payment processors and ad-networks to cut off revenue streams to publications they rate poorly by their same bias standards. This should be criminal in America. You can bypass this third-world nonsense and help support us by signing up for featured stories by email and get the good stuff delivered right to your inbox. Want to help us fight back against these tech tyrants? Contribute to our fundraiser..
 

Shipments of vaping supplies arrive in the alleyways behind dozens of wholesale shops. The seedy district is bounded by Skid Row on one side and Little Tokyo’s skyscrapers on the other. It is considered a black-market gateway to the United States, allowing the production and sale of fake products to flourish. Photo: Heidi de Marco/California Healthline.
Shipments of vaping supplies arrive in the alleyways behind dozens of wholesale shops. The seedy district is bounded by Skid Row on one side and Little Tokyo’s skyscrapers on the other. It is considered a black-market gateway to the United States, allowing the production and sale of fake products to flourish. Photo: Heidi de Marco/California Healthline.
Vape flavors on display at a wholesale shop on Fourth Street tantalize buyers with names like “Sugared Nectarine” and “The Abyss.” There are thousands of e-liquid flavors, which are typically made by mixing nicotine and flavorings with a solvent, often propylene glycol. A study in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research suggests that mixtures of certain ingredients and flavorings can create entirely new and potentially dangerous chemicals. The Mayo Clinic reported in early October that the vaping-related illnesses are most likely caused by noxious chemical fumes, and that the lung damage resembles a chemical burn. Photo: Heidi de Marco/California Healthline.
Vape shop employees unload a shipment. The Food and Drug Administration advises consumers to avoid black-market cannabis products, which could contain pesticides, heavy metals or other dangerous contaminants. In California, legal products are tested and monitored by the state’s “track-and-trace” system, and consumers can look for package tags to confirm the authenticity of a product.  Vape shop employees unload a shipment. The Food and Drug Administration advises consumers to avoid black-market cannabis products, which could contain pesticides, heavy metals or other dangerous contaminants. In California, legal products are tested and monitored by the state’s “track-and-trace” system, and consumers can look for package tags to confirm the authenticity of a product. Photo: Heidi de Marco/California Healthline.
Boxes of vape products, origin unknown, arrive at a vape shop in downtown Los Angeles. Sellers of counterfeit goods are spooked by the increased attention — and the hit to their businesses. The Food and Drug Administration has launched a criminal investigation into the illnesses with the Drug Enforcement Administration, a probe that isn’t focused on individual vapers, but on the manufacture and distribution of illicit products that sicken people. “You can buy counterfeit juice and cartridges here, but I haven’t seen some of the people that sell them. They got scared of the news,” said an employee who didn’t want his name used. Photo: Heidi de Marco/California Healthline.
A conveyor belt moves boxes at a vape warehouse. The California Department of Public Health is urging everyone to quit vaping, “no matter the substance or source,” while the investigations into the illnesses proceed. The CDC also advised people to “consider refraining” from using e-cigarette products, especially those that contain THC. Photo: Heidi de Marco/California Healthline.

Comment via Facebook

Corrections: If you are aware of an inaccuracy or would like to report a correction, we would like to know about it. Please consider sending an email to corrections@publishedreporter.com and cite any sources if available. Thank you. (Policy)