Crime & Justice

Holy guacamole: 3 men arrested for stealing $300,000 worth of avocados

File: A farmer harvests avocados at an orchard in the municipality of Uruapan, Michoacan State, Mexico, on Oct. 19, 2016.
File: A farmer harvests avocados at an orchard in the municipality of Uruapan, Michoacan State, Mexico, on Oct. 19, 2016.
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images
File: A farmer harvests avocados at an orchard in the municipality of Uruapan, Michoacan State, Mexico, on Oct. 19, 2016.
Last week, deputies arrested three men employed at the Mission Produce Ripening Facility in Camarillo. Joseph Valenzuela, 38, Carlos Chavez, 28 and Rahim Leblanc, 30, have been charged with felony grand theft.
Ventura County Sheriff's Office
File: A farmer harvests avocados at an orchard in the municipality of Uruapan, Michoacan State, Mexico, on Oct. 19, 2016.
Last week, deputies arrested three men employed at the Mission Produce Ripening Facility in Camarillo. Joseph Valenzuela, 38, Carlos Chavez, 28 and Rahim Leblanc, 30, have been charged with felony grand theft.
Ventura County Sheriff's Office
File: A farmer harvests avocados at an orchard in the municipality of Uruapan, Michoacan State, Mexico, on Oct. 19, 2016.
Last week, deputies arrested three men employed at the Mission Produce Ripening Facility in Camarillo. Joseph Valenzuela, 38, Carlos Chavez, 28 and Rahim Leblanc, 30, have been charged with felony grand theft.
Ventura County Sheriff's Office


You've heard of grand theft auto, but what about grand theft avocado? Ventura County Sheriff's announced Monday an investigation into the theft of $300,000 worth of avocados.

Last week, deputies arrested three men employed at the Mission Produce Ripening Facility in Camarillo. Joseph Valenzuela, 38, Carlos Chavez, 28 and Rahim Leblanc, 30, have been charged with felony grand theft.

The company's owners tipped off authorities in May after they suspected the employees were making unauthorized cash sales of the avocados. After some digging, detectives had enough evidence to arrest the men.

Sgt. John Franchi told KPCC he's never seen a crime like this, calling it "highly unusual."

"I've been on the department over 28 years. I've never seen any type of theft of this amount of money involved for avocados," Franchi said.

The investigation is still underway to determine if there were other people involved in the scheme — and whether the avocados are being stored somewhere.