Officials warn about black market in Tampa Bay area for baby formula

File photo from ParentingPatch via Wikimedia Commons

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Two local men are charged with stealing baby formula in Pinellas County – and selling it through a black market.

Feeding a newborn can be very expensive. Powdered infant formula can cost $16 a can and up.

“The two suspects would drive over here from Tampa,” Sgt. Spencer Gross with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told News Channel 8.

Purvis Sealy
Purvis Sealy, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office photo

Tipped off by employees of the Walmart Neighborhood Market on East Lake Road in Palm Harbor, Pinellas deputies focused their attention on William Kelly and Purvis Sealy.

“One of the suspects would stand at the door as a lookout. The second would grab a shopping cart, go up and down the aisles, and they’d specifically target infant baby formula,” Sgt. Gross explained.

William Kelly, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office photo
William Kelly, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office photo

Video surveillance allegedly caught the pair stealing cans of formula. And neither of the men have babies at home, according to Sgt. Gross.

The pair are accused of selling the baby formula to mothers back in their Tampa neighborhood.

That’s not a safe way to buy for precious bundles, officials caution. Infant formula can go bad and possibly become poison to a baby.

“Buying baby formulas not off the shelf but any other place, rather than a regular retail place, it can be extremely unsafe for the babies,” Dr. Fauzia Shakeel, of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital said. “If they are packaged or they are falsified on the expiration date, they have shelf life, and that can actually cause potentially life-threatening problems.”

The suspects are also accused of stealing Red Bull, Tide PODS and dog food.

Hear from officials and experts about this baby formula market market tonight at 11 p.m. on News Channel 8. 



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