Central Valley man arrested in ‘elaborate’ pistachio theft scheme: Officials

California

Agriculture detectives recently arrested a California man involved in an “elaborate” scheme to steal and resell pistachios, according to KTLA sister station KSEE/KGPE in Fresno.

Additional arrests are expected after officers recovered more than $350,000 in stolen nuts and trailers, according to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives were called to Setton Pistachio in Terra Bella on Aug. 14 for a possible cargo theft, said spokeswoman Ashley Ritchie. Arriving detectives found the suspects stole the identity of a legitimate trucking company. They then used that company’s name to secure contracts for the delivery of two tractor-trailer loads of pistachios, worth more than $294,000.

Instead of delivering the product, the men allegedly took the pistachios to an abandoned property in Selma, where they removed the packaging. They then sold the nuts to an unsuspecting buyer in Madera County.

Detectives said the would-be pistachio pilferers secured a big rig and developed an elaborate scheme to carry out their plan. But the two trailers from a Fresno business they’re accused of swiping were equipped with real-time GPS trackers, Ritchie said.

Detectives contacted the owner of the company and were able to track down the suspects, as well as all of the pistachios and the stolen trailers.

As the crime scenes spanned three counties, multiple law enforcement agencies worked to track down one of the suspects, 23-year-old Bhavna Singh Sekon of Fresno. Investigators arrested Sekon at his home and booked him into the Tulare County Jail on suspicion of grand theft, looting, identity theft and conspiracy.

Deputies expect additional to make additional arrests and said they found more evidence linking Sekon to the thefts at his house.

In total, detectives recovered $294,000 in pistachios and $60,000 in trailers, Ritchie said.

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