California authorities have arrested a man who allegedly stole 21 tons, or 42,000 pounds, of pistachios.
According to the BBC, the Tulare County Sheriff’s office began investigating the nut-heist after a routine audit by Touchstone Pistachio Company confirmed about $100,000 worth of pistachios were missing. Deputies and local agricultural detectives eventually received several investigation leads in Fresno and Kern County, where they discovered a tractor trailer containing the pilfered tree nuts.
The sheriff’s office says the vehicle had been “moved from the Montemayor Trucking lot in Delano to a nearby lot. Detectives found that the pistachios were being moved from 2,000 pound sacks into smaller bags for re-sale.”
The discovery led to the arrest of 34-year-old Alberto Montemayor of Montemayor Trucking, a motor carrier that became a contractor for Touchstone earlier this year. Authorities say the recovered pistachios were returned to the producer after the investigation.
Montemayor was booked in Tulare County on June 18. Touchstone has yet to comment on the case.
According to the BBC, similar schemes have become quite common in central California, where the majority of the country’s pistachios, almonds, and walnuts are produced. Officials say most of these thieves pretend to be truck drivers to obtain the nuts, and then sell the products off to other retailers. About $7 million worth of these nuts were reportedly stolen from 2014 to 2017, prompting industry figures to implement precautionary measures like photographing truck drivers and taking their fingerprints.