(PHOTO: JIM ALLEN/FREIGHTWAVES)
Sheriff’s deputies recovered a truckload of stolen Patron Tequila in Hillsborough County, Florida earlier this week. The value of the merchandise totaled over half of a million dollars.
The liquor was stolen around 11 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2018, when the truck driver hauling the load stopped for dinner at Tampa Truck Stop on U.S. Highway 301. Sometime during the course of his meal, the driver noticed the trailer was no longer attached to his truck, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
“Deputies searched and found the trailer near the intersection of Ike Smith Road and McIntosh Road around 12:30 a.m,” HCSO officials said. “They observed four men transferring cases of Patron Tequila to another box truck that was registered to them.”
Before deputies intervened, law enforcement officers said the suspects had moved over 20 cases of tequila from the fully loaded trailer. Deputies estimated about 966 cases of tequila in the trailer with a retail value of $507,105.
Four men were arrested in connection to the crime. All four men were charged with grand theft of 100,000 or more, burglary of unoccupied conveyance and resisting an officer without violence. One of the suspects was also charged with possession of a controlled substance.
The tequila heist was the latest in a series of truck robberies involving alcohol.
In late November 2018, Los Angeles Police Department Commercial Crime Division detectives were called in to handle missing truckload of beer. The owner of a California-based delivery company told detectives the driver hired to haul the beer picked up the load but never dropped it off.
The owner said the driver contacted him via text message the weekend before he reported the truck’s disappearance, according to a LAPD media release.
Detectives did recover the trailer and the load of beer kegs after receiving a tip, but the driver has not been apprehended.
About two months prior, Patron Tequila was the target of another theft. This time, a shipper reported a pallet containing 1,014 bottles of the liquor stolen out of a trailer, according to the Laredo, Texas Police Department.
“After several weeks of diligent work and continued effort by the Laredo Police Department’s Auto Theft Task Force to solve the cargo theft, surveillance was set up after a male subject began advertising large quantities of Tequila Patron for sale on social media pages,” LPD said in a media release. “ATTF investigators continued surveillance and conducted a traffic stop on a suspect vehicle. ATTF investigators were able to recover numerous cases of tequila.”
In addition to the stolen tequila, police recovered a revolver loaded with six roads.
LPD interviewed two suspects in connection to the case, at which time one suspect admitted to being in the United States illegally, as well as owning the firearm. At the time of LPD’s last update, cargo theft charges were still pending.