Three arrested in alleged avocado caper
CAMARILLO, Calif. — Ventura County sheriff investigators arrested three men on charges of grand theft of fruit and vegetables, specifically the unauthorized sale of up $300,000 worth of avocados.
The three suspects were identified as Joseph Valenzuela, 38, of Santa Paula; Carlos Chavez, 28, of Oxnard; and Rahim Leblanc, 30, of Oxnard.
Detectives said the three were arrested Wednesday after search warrants were served at the facility where they work, Mission Produce in an unincorporated area of Ventura County, as well as their homes.
Detectives said the investigation began in May after they were told about the possible unauthorized cash sale of avocados from the facility. Avocados are taken there to ripen, detectives said.
Investigators said they were told that the stolen avocados had an estimated value of more than $300,000.
They also said that those buying the avocados "thought they were paying Mission Produce for the fruit."
The three were being held at the Ventura County jail on Friday. Bail for each was set at $250,000.