Grand theft avocado: 3 arrested in $300K California theft

Ventura County Sheriff's Office shows suspect Joseph Valenzuela 38 of Santa Paula Calif. The Ventura County Sheriff's Department says three workers at a Southern California produce company were arrest

The three suspects have been identified as Joseph Valenzuela, 38, of Santa Paula, Carlos Chavez, 28, of Oxnard and Rahim Leblanc, 30, of Oxnard.

Three produce company workers have been arrested in the theft of up to $300,000 worth of avocados, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

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.

Thirty-eight-year-old Joseph Valenzuela, 28-year-old Carlos Chavez and 30-year-old Rahim Leblanc were each charged with grand theft of fruit and were being held in jail on bail of $250,000 each. The facility where they work is located in an unincorporated area of Ventura County.

So why steal and sell avocados, specifically?

Valenzuela, Chavez, and Leblanc are now being held at Ventura County jail with bail set at $250,000 each. "It's a big product here and in California", sheriff's Sgt. John Franchi told the Los Angeles Times.

"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", read a statement from sheriff's officials.

Avocados are important to Californians - so much so that they were the subject of a grand theft investigation that led to multiple arrests this week in Southern California.

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