Authorities in Ventura County, California made the pinch on three men who were accused of running a booming trade in stolen avocados.
The trio were employees of Mission Produce and worked at a ripening facility outside of Oxnard where they were pilfering product and selling it at a discount while pocketing the ill-gotten loot.
The men were arrested and charged with grand theft.
Three Ventura County men arrested on suspicion of grand theft of avocados worth $300,000 https://t.co/pjYw4uOhbW
— KTLA (@KTLA) June 17, 2017
According to Los Angeles television station KTLA 5 “3 Ventura County Men Arrested on Suspicion of Grand Theft of Avocados Worth $300,000”:
Three employees at a produce processing facility in Ventura County were arrested this week after detectives uncovered an illegal avocado sales operation at the location, officials said Friday.
Joseph Valenzuela, 38; Rahim Leblanc, 30; and Carlos Chavez, 28, were all taken into custody Wednesday after investigators served search warrants at their homes and the Mission Produce location where they worked, according to a statement from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
Chavez and Leblanc live in Oxnard, while Valenzuela is a resident of Santa Paula.
All three worked in the company’s ripening facility on Dufau Road in an unincorporated area of Ventura County near Oxnard, deputies said.
Detectives opened an investigation at the end of May after receiving reports that employees at the location were selling avocados for cash unauthorized from the company grounds. Investigators confirmed these allegations and found the illegal enterprise had been operating for several months.
It was unclear what led detectives to tie the three suspects to the crime.
Mission Produce estimates more than $300,000 worth of avocados was lost, sheriff’s officials said.
Interestingly, the Ventura County Star reports that avocado theft isn’t a new phenomenon in the story that touches on the crime at Mission Produce and provides additional details.
Why thieves eye'd $300k worth of avocados; how the healthy and beloved fruit has grown in popularity. https://t.co/9xT2QNKxPo
— Ventura County Star (@vcstar) June 22, 2017
It’s not likely that the three amigos are going to be eating guacamole for a long time, they will have to develop a taste for prison gruel.
Just call it grand theft avocado.