DALLAS — The three Dallas-area men arrested in Michigan on state terrorism charges are well-known to cell phone wholesale and retail shops here, where managers said Monday they are part of a brisk trade in buying phones from Wal-Mart and other discount stores and reselling them to smaller shops.UPDATE: Be sure to read the first comment. It adds great value to this story. From an economic point of view.
In Michigan, meanwhile, the FBI said it has no information to indicate that the three Palestinian-Americans arrested with about 1,000 cell phones in their van on Friday had any connections to terrorism.
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"For these guys, there is a lot of margin in these," said Sean Mobh, manager of Wireless Stop, a cell phone store on Harry Hines Boulevard in northwest Dallas. "There is a phone that they buy from Wal-Mart for 20 bucks and sell for $38."
Mobh said the group has come in "three or four" times in the last three months and he made one purchase of about 100 phones. They would usually sell prepaid TracFones, like the kind they were found with in Michigan, because Wal-Mart's discounts on them are so deep that they can make a nice resale profit.
"One trip and that's about $6,000 each minus gas and expenses," he said.
Mobh said the three men are among dozens of individuals in the competitive market of buying goods from Wal-Mart and other deep discounters and reselling them to other stores that mark them up and sell them retail or wholesale.
Mobh said he resells the phones in bulk in higher-priced markets such as New York or Los Angeles, or ships them abroad.
Wal-Marts in Dallas and other cities often are sold out of the most popular phones because of all the resellers about, so entrepreneurial types such as the Othman brothers and their cousin will travel long distances to find stores with inventory, several shopkeepers said.