Crime

Booze bandits stole more than $500,000 worth of tequila, deputies say. They didn’t get far

Four Florida men are in custody after they stole more than $500,000 worth of tequila from a Tampa truck stop, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

A truck driver hauling a load of tequila stopped to dine at Tampa Truck Stop on U.S. 301 on Sunday night. At some point while he was inside the restaurant, the trailer was removed from his vehicle and towed away.

The driver made the discovery around 11 p.m. and alerted deputies, who began to search the area.

Around 12:30 a.m., deputies located the semi-trailer near the intersection of Ike Smith Road and McIntosh Road in the Thonotosassa area of Hillsborough County. There, they observed four men transferring cases of tequila from the stolen trailer into a box truck.

The men had transferred more than 20 cases from the fully loaded 53-foot trailer before deputies moved in, according to the sheriff’s office.

Vidal Estrada, 66, of Fort Lauderdale, Lemuel Escobar, 35, of Clermont, Humberto Ramirez, 37, of Mascot and Alberto Obaya, 46, of Plant City were arrested at the scene.

All four men were charged with resisting an officer without violence, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and grand theft $100,000 or more. Additionally, Obaya was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

The semi-trailer contained approximately 966 cases of tequila with a retail value of $507,105, according to the sheriff’s office.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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