Three Men Arrested For Selling Over $300,000 Worth Of Stolen Avocados

Three men were arrested this week in connection with what may be the most Southern California crime to have ever Southern California'd. Joseph Valenzuela, Carlos Chavez, and Rahim Leblanc were arrested by Ventura County Sheriff's deputies for selling some $300,000 in stolen avocados.

According to the Ventura County Star, the three men worked at Mission Produce on Dufau Road, in an unincorporated part of Ventura County. The men pilfered avocados from the facility—where avocados are taken to ripen—for months, and sold the stolen produce for cash.

Those who bought the avocados "thought they were paying Mission Produce for the fruit," county detectives told the Star.

According to KNBC, the three men were charged individually with grand theft, but the charges may change.

"The investigation is ongoing as Sheriff’s Detectives are looking into the possibility that the suspects sold the avocados to unknowing customers, who thought they were paying Mission Produce for the fruit," a statement from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department notes, reports KNBC.

So why steal and sell avocados, specifically? As noted by the Washington Post, avocado prices are currently the highest they have ever been on record. Not only has America's annual avocado consumption risen some 700% in the last 25 years, prices have also nearly doubled since 2016.

“You have increased consumption in China and other areas of the world, like Europe,” Roland Fumasi, an analyst at Rabobank in Fresno, California, told Bloomberg. “They’re pulling a lot more of the Mexican crop, so there’s less available for the U.S.”

Valenzuela, Chavez, and Leblanc are currently being held at Ventura County jail with bail set at $250,000 each.

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(Photos by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department via the Ventura County Star)