Rahim Leblanc, Carlos Chavez and Joseph Valenzuela
Ventura County – Succeeding in crime, as in business, often depends upon being able to maximize profits by focusing on operational scale. Small scale behavior yields small scale revenues, while “going big” often results in impressive revenues.
This business principle seems to have been well known to three men employed by Ventura County’s Mission Produce, a warehousing, packing, and distribution facility located in an unincorporated area of the county described by Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Det. L. Johnson as “patrolled by deputies from the Sheriff’s Camarillo station.”
It was at Mission Produce in May of 2017 that a report was made to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department of suspicious cash sales of avocados from the company’s “ripening facility” by its employees.
At that point, VCSD detectives conducted an investigation that led to “evidence that confirmed the allegations,” and the conclusion that “illegal sales had likely been occurring for several months” to the tune of more than $300,000 in stolen fruit.
Pursuant to that investigation and the trail of evidence developed, on June 14th a joint task force comprised of law enforcement personnel attached to the Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Ojai, and Ventura Headquarters divisions of VCSD served “four search warrants throughout Ventura County,” which led to the arrests of 38-year-old Santa Paula resident Joseph Valenzuela, 28-year-old Oxnard resident Carlos Chavez, and 30-year-old Oxnard resident Rahim Leblanc.
All three suspects were arrested upon contact and transported to Ventura County Jail, where they were booked on a charge of Grand Theft of Avocados, with no bail amounts disclosed.
While Valenzuela, Chavez, and Leblanc are the alleged masterminds of this crime, VCSD detectives, through Ventura County Crime Stoppers, continue to offer a $1,000 reward “for information which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime.”
Photos: courtesy Ventura County Jail Booking