- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2020

Authorities in suburban San Diego late Wednesday arrested eight people for allegedly selling coronavirus-related supplies at more than 20 times their ordinary retail price.

Officers with the San Diego County County Sheriff’s Office said the suspects sold masks, gloves, disinfectants and toilet paper at “exorbitant prices.”

“These parties intended to maximize financial gain during the emergency with merchandise being offered for sale upward of twenty times its regular retail price,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Under California law, it is illegal to sell essential consumer goods for more than 10 percent of their retail cost during a state of emergency. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by a jail term of one year, a fine of $10,000 or both.

The officers set up an undercover sting, meeting with the suspects in public places across San Diego County to verify their intention to sell the products and make the arrest.

All eight were cited and released on their own recognizance, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The arrests come as coronavirus price gouging becomes a flashpoint in Washington.

Attorney General William P. Barr last week urged federal prosecutors to crack down on coronavirus price gouging, saying such conduct cannot be tolerated.

But a group of bipartisan lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee said the attorney general isn’t doing enough. They urged Mr. Barr to outline specific actions the Justice Department is doing to stop retailers from jacking up their prices.

“It is critical that the DOJ play a central role in ensuring that consumers have access to items they need to protect themselves, their families and their communities,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Mr. Barr.

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