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Workers of Mission Produce steal and sell $300,000 worth of avocados

By Mason White 4:27 PM June 18, 2017
Joseph Valenzuela Santa Paula, Carlos Chavez Oxnard, and Rahim Leblanc
Joseph Valenzuela Santa Paula, Carlos Chavez Oxnard,
and Rahim Leblanc
By: Emily Lewis

A company that sells avocados was shocked to discover that several of their employees were selling the fruit out of the facility and pocketing the cash, according to police in California.

On Friday, Ventura County Sheriff’s Detectives from the Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Ojai, and Headquarters Stations, along with detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Services Division, served four search warrants throughout Ventura County.

The warrants were served on the suspects’ work location, Mission Produce’s Dufau Road Facility, as well as at all three suspects’ residences.

The warrants resulted in the arrests of the three suspects, Joseph Valenzuela Santa Paula, 38, Carlos Chavez, 28, and Rahim Leblanc, 30.

All three were employees of Mission Produce, and worked at the facility on Dufau Road, in the unincorporated area of Ventura County.

Detectives began their investigation in late May.

Allegations were made that employees at Mission Produce’s Dufau Road ripening facility were conducting unauthorized cash sales of avocados from the facility.

During the investigation, detectives obtained evidence that confirmed the allegations.

They also learned that the illegal sales had likely been occurring for several months.

Mission Produce estimated the value of the stolen avocados at over $300,000.

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 box of avocados sells for $50 but the suspects sold them for just $25. All three suspects have been charged with grand theft.

They were booked into jail, and bail has been set at $250,000 each.