More than half of a million hoarded personal protective equipment (PPE) are ready for distribution in New York and New Jersey.
The PPE shipment includes approximately 192,000 N95 respirator masks, a desperately sought-after commodity at the two locations considered to be the front line of the novel coronavirus.
The FBI discovered the supplies during an enforcement operation by the Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force on March 30.
Officials did not say where the supplies were recovered from but said it alerted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which used its authority under the Defense Production Act to order that the supplies be immediately furnished to the United States.
HHS said it will pay the owner of the hoarded equipment pre-COVID-19 fair market value for the supplies.
Peter Navarro, DPA Policy Coordinator, and Assistant to the President said this is the first of many such investigations that are underway.
“Our FBI agents and other law enforcement agencies are tracking down every tip and lead they get and are devoting massive federal resources to this effort. All individuals and companies hoarding any of these critical supplies, or selling them at well above market prices, are hereby warned they should turn them over to local authorities or the federal government now or risk prompt seizure by the federal government,” Navarro said in a news release Thursday.
Anyone who learns of hoarding or price gouging of PPE should report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by dialing 1-866-720-5721 or emailing email@example.com.
Vendors interested in selling PPE to the federal government should contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency.