San Joaquin County Sheriff’s officials have announced that they made a pair of arrests in the case regarding the $400,000 theft of walnuts from GoldRiver Orchards that occurred last October.
On Friday, Jan 17, Pedro Becerra, 36, and Mario Ojeda, 33, were booked into San Joaquin County Jail on charges of grand theft, conspiracy, auto theft, and an enhancement of committing a theft with a value over $150,000. Ojeda was also booked for a Stanislaus County auto theft warrant for taking a set of tanker trailers in Modesto and on an outstanding Oakdale Police Department warrant for DUI.
Between Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 of 2013, three sets of gondola-type dual trailers filled with 140,000 pounds of dried and hulled walnuts were surreptitiously taken from GoldRiver Orchards off Enterprise Road and Highway 120 in Escalon, just west of the Stanislaus-San Joaquin County line. Authorities at the time valued the nuts at $400,000.
The heist was carried out by the suspects cutting wooden fence posts on the south fence of the facility’s southeast yard where the filled trailers or “hoppers” were sitting. The investigation at that time appeared that the suspects used their own trucks to hook up to the trailers and drive them off the yard. Tire tracks discovered at the scene indicated the semitrailers were driven along the fence line and onto Highway 120.
In November the walnuts were recovered, but sheriff's representatives did not disclose the location where the walnuts were found.
Becerra and Ojeda were scheduled to appear in Manteca Court on Tuesday, Jan. 22.