TERRA BELLA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Agriculture detectives recently arrested a Fresno man involved in an “elaborate” scheme to steal and resell pistachios as other arrests are expected as more than $350,000 in stolen nuts and trailers are recovered, 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 suspects 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 found the suspects developed an elaborate scheme to carry out their plan, Ritchie said. The suspects used a big rig and stole two trailers from a Fresno business. The trailers were equipped with real-time GPS trackers.
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 were able to track down Bhavna Singh Sekon, 23, of Fresno, as a suspect responsible for the theft, said Ritchie. He was found at this home, arrested and booked into the Tulare County Jail on charges of grand theft, looting, identity theft and conspiracy.
Deputies expect additional arrests will take place and 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.
Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact Detective Bryan De Haan or Sgt. Bryan Clower at the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 1-800-808-0488 or anonymously at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by text or voicemail at 559-725-4194.