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Press Release

Four Individuals Plead Guilty In Tequila Cargo Theft Ring

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – Lemuel Escobar (37, Clermont), Humberto Ramirez (39, Mascotte), Alberto Obaya (48, Plant City), and Vidal Estrada (68, Fort Lauderdale) have each pleaded guilty to charges involving cargo theft of an interstate shipment of goods, and receipt and possession of stolen goods. Each faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, on December 30, 2018, Escobar, Ramirez, Obaya, and Estrada stole a tractor trailer that was parked near U.S. Route 301 in Tampa. The trailer contained cases of Patron tequila, with a value of more than $500,000. The tequila was an interstate shipment from Texas that was en route to a business in Lakeland, Florida. The shipment had not yet reached its final destination when the trailer was stolen.

The trailer was relocated to Thonotosassa where the defendants proceeded to move cases of the tequila from the trailer to a nearby box truck. The box truck was registered to Escobar. Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were alerted to the movement of the trailer and, when they arrived on scene, the deputies observed the defendants moving the cases of tequila from the trailer to the box truck. When the deputies commanded the individuals to stop, they fled but were later arrested near the scene. The cases of tequila were recovered.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Cargo Theft Task Force) and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Maria Guzman.

Updated October 29, 2020