By Ryan Velez
Celebrity Net Worth shares a story out of Cameron County, Texas that may be amusing at first glance, but is likely a nightmare for anyone who runs a business in the food industry. A Juvenile Justice Department employee by the name of Gilberto Escamilla allegedly stole more than a million dollars worth of fajitas over the course of nine years, spending county money on the fajitas and then reselling them (presumably) at a profit.
District Attorney Luis V. Saenz told The Brownsville Herald that indeed, it sounds funny on paper, but this is a serious crime: "If it wasn't so serious, you'd think it was a Saturday Night Live skit. But this is the real thing."
How did Escamilla’s hustle unravel? It all started when he took a day off on August 7th for a doctor's appointment. On the same day, the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department received an order of 800 pounds of fajitas. Ostensibly, it was supposed to be for the office’s kitchen to prepare for detainees, but they aren’t on the menu at this particular institution. When the delivery driver was told this, he mentioned that he had been making deliveries there for almost 10 years.
When Escamilla returned to work, he confessed to stealing hundreds of pounds of fajitas under the name of the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department. He didn’t lose his job instantly, but investigators searched his home and found a paper trail over the last decade that explained the sheer volume of his theft. Overall, his stolen food haul totaled $1,251,578.
Following his first arrest, Escamilla reportedly made bail, but when authorities discovered the extent of his crime, he was arrested again on felony first-degree theft charges. What’s not clear at the moment is the exact way that Escamilla unloaded his stolen goods, or how exactly he got the idea to do this degree of theft.
“He would literally, on the day he ordered them, deliver them to customers he had already lined up,” Saenz said.
The attorney called it a "total failure" on the part of the juvenile department, which announced a review of policy. Reselling stolen meat isn’t unheard of, with some people stealing grocery store meat and selling it to restaurants. However, one person doing an operation on this scale for this long is a rarity.