Florida

Half a million dollars worth of tequila disappeared during dinner, the truck driver said

Vidal Estrada, top left; Humberto Ramirez, top right; Lemuel Escobar, bottom left; and Alberto Obay, bottom right.
Vidal Estrada, top left; Humberto Ramirez, top right; Lemuel Escobar, bottom left; and Alberto Obay, bottom right. Hillsborough Sheriff's Office

A truck driver suddenly found himself suddenly in the middle of a white line nightmare Sunday night: his semi-truck in the truck stop parking lot, but without the previously-attached semi-trailer and the $507,105 (retail value) of Patron Tequila therein.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said about a 90 minutes later, around 12:30 a.m. Monday, deputies found the semi-trailer about 11 miles away. The 996 cases of Patron were still there, deputies said, albeit in transition from the semi-trailer to a box truck registered to the four men doing the unauthorized transitioning.

Once deputies interrupted this process with 20 cases in the box truck, Fort Lauderdale resident Vidal Estrada, 66; Plant City’s Alberto Obaya, 46; and Mascot’s Humberto Ramirez, 37, gave themselves up. Clermont resident Lemuel Escobar, the youngest of the group at 35, ran. He made it less than 100 yards.

Each of the four faces charges of grand theft of $100,000 or more; burglary of an unoccupied conveyance; and resisting an officer without violence.

Obaya also got a charge of possession of a controlled substance charge. He’s an officially registered career criminal, having done five turns in Florida prisons for stealing guns, burglary and aggravated assault, among other crimes.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.


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