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A Truckload of Evidence: 42,000 Pounds of Pistachios Are Stolen in California

A man who worked for a trucking contractor was charged with stealing 21 tons of nuts from a pistachio grower, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said.

A California pistachio company was conducting a routine audit when it noticed something suspicious: About 42,000 pounds of pistachios — nearly enough to fill a truck trailer — were missing.

Officials of the company, Touchstone Pistachio, called the agricultural crimes unit of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Within days, after checking surveillance footage, sheriff’s deputies arrested 34-year-old Alberto Montemayor, who had been working for Montemayor Trucking, a family-owned business that the pistachio company had hired this year as a contractor, according to the authorities.

Mr. Montemayor was charged with grand theft, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sgt. Joseph England, who leads the agricultural crimes unit, said it was not uncommon for people to steal nuts in many of California’s rural counties, where farming drives the local economies. The product isn’t easily traced, he said.

But 42,000 pounds of pistachios wasn’t something he’d seen before.

“That was pretty large,” Sergeant England said. “You don’t come across that every day.”

Touchstone Pistachio, which has its headquarters in Terra Bella, Calif., north of Bakersfield in Tulare County, declined to comment.

Mr. Montemayor declined to comment on Monday when reached by phone.

Sergeant England said he and the four investigators in the unit reviewed the surveillance cameras in the company’s facility. Afterward, they concluded Mr. Montemayor was the suspect.

While 21-ton nut thefts don’t occur often in Tulare County, it’s not unheard-of, Sergeant England said. Nuts are big business in the region, and agricultural thefts are significant enough that the sheriff’s office created its agricultural crimes unit in 1996.

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux of Tulare County told CNN in 2016 that his deputies traveled “as far as New Mexico” to find stolen products, which are often nuts.

Mae Culumber, a University of California crop adviser who specializes in nut crops, said nut commodities have a long shelf life, making them ideal for people looking to make a profit over a sustained amount of time.

“There’s a lot of opportunities there versus other things that would be more perishable,” Ms. Culumber said.

California comprises 99 percent of the total U.S. commercial pistachio production, according to American Pistachio Growers, a nonprofit trade association. Tulare’s crop report from 2019 states that the county had 74,540 acres of pistachios, compared with 147,900 in Kern County, directly south of Tulare.

When questions about the pistachios began coming up in May, Sergeant England said, Touchstone Pistachio thought a delivery was either behind schedule or misplaced.

But when the company officials completed their audit on Thursday and realized $170,760 worth of pistachios was missing, they called the agricultural crimes unit.

“In these facilities, there’s some oversight and checks and balances that’s done in order to keep track of everything,” Sergeant England said.

Every pistachio-carrying tractor-trailer holds around $200,000 worth of product, so the company “likes to keep track of everything,” he said.

When the authorities found Mr. Montemayor, Sergeant England said, they discovered that he had moved a tractor-trailer loaded with pistachios from the trucking company’s lot to another lot nearby.

Each sack of pistachios in the tractor-trailer carried roughly 2,000 nuts, and Mr. Montemayor had been moving them into smaller bags in order to resell them for profit, the Sheriff’s Office said. The authorities were able to recover 40,000 pounds of pistachios, Sergeant England said. It was unclear what had happened to the remaining 2,000 pounds, he said.

“These are high dollar loads moving from facility to facility,” Sergeant England said. “If some of those oversight steps aren’t minded, the opportunity presents itself where there is a lot of money to be made.”


The WAG class of 2006 - from drug scandals and £57k shopping sprees to dancing drunk on tables

They don't make WAGs like they used to!

While the England team's performance at the 2006 World Cup in Germany wasn't up to much, the diva antics from their wives and girlfriends was off the scale.

From drug scandals and dancing drunk on tables to racking up huge hotel bills - their headline-grabbing behaviour was so bad that partners were completely banned from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Current WAG Rebekah Vardy insists the women are much happier to fade into the background these days. What a shame.

"The wives and girlfriends have a much lower profile now and that is how it should be. Our job is to be supportive," she said.

"I would be mortified if I was pictured leaving a bar absolutely p***ed knowing that my husband was going to play one of the biggest games of his life the next day."

But here's a look back at what went down in Baden-Baden. #Neverforget.

Victoria Beckham

Seven years into her marriage with the England captain David Beckham, Victoria was the Queen of the WAGs.

Victoria Beckham

With her fake boobs, fake hair and a fake tan, the then-32-year-old set the fashion agenda for the rest of the brigade, mentoring newbie Cheryl in how to provide stylish support from the stands.

Becks quit as captain that same year after England were knocked out by Portugal on penalties in the quarter finals before retiring from the the beautiful game for good in 2013, bringing to a close VB's WAG reign.

But by that point she had already moved on, ditching the fake tan and getting her breast implants removed.

"I don’t wear fake tan anymore," Victoria, 44, declared in 2013.

"Sometimes I’ve been turned orange but that’s definitely a look from my past. Being overly tanned is very aging and, dare I say it, a bit footballer’s wife."

Having launched her own clothing line in 2008, VB quickly morphed into a sleek, stylish fashionista who wouldn't be seen dead flashing bare flesh.

She did, however, continue to support David on the pitch after he moved to LA Galaxy, although in a much more understated way.

As for their marriage, the pair was recently forced to shut down divorce rumours after false claims that David had had an affair went viral.

Both branded the reports 'laughable' and David promptly treated Victoria to a new engagement ring - her 14th so far - priced at an eye-watering £120,000.


She married then-England footballer Ashley Cole just days after the World Cup ended, and it was Victoria Beckham who taught her the ropes on her first high-profile WAG outing.

World Cup 2006. Ashley Cole and Cheryl Tweedy walk around Baden Baden, Germany. June 2006
Jul 2006: Cheryl and Victoria Beckham watch their boyfriends play Portugal during the World Cup Quarter Final

The pair was barely parted and were constantly pictured trying to outdo each other with the size of their shades.

But sadly their friendship fizzled soon after, with Cheryl claiming VB didn't get in touch after Ashely was busted cheating with a hairdresser in 2008.

"David’s mum is friends with Ashley’s mum, she (Victoria) was in my hotel room the whole time during the World Cup - we’ve had barbecues together — so I was quite shocked by that," Chez told Vogue magazine the following year.

And clearly stung, she accused Posh of designing dresses for 'old women' insisting they weren't 'something [Girls Aloud] would wear."

Cheryl would return to Ashley for a second time... before he allegedly cheated yet again. And they divorced in 2010, ending Chezzer's foray into Wagdom.

She went on to marry French restauranteur Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months of dating.

When that ended, she got with One Direction star Liam Payne in 2016, with the pair welcoming son Bear in 2017.

However, after months of speculation they announced they were going their separate ways on Sunday, meaning Cheryl is once again single. But is she ready to mingle?

Coleen Rooney

She was just 20 when she made her World Cup WAG debut, joining the players' partners at the £1,000-a-night Brenner's Park Hotel.

Armed with a tanning consultant - yes, really - she was still going by her maiden name of McLoughlin and was relegated to the second row behind Posh and Cheryl.

But she was part of the WAG pack rumoured to have run up a £57,000 bill with just one hour's worth of shopping - a haul she later dismissed as being a few 'bits and pieces'.

Two years earlier, then-boyfriend Wayne Rooney admitted sleeping with prostitutes behind his school sweetheart's back, and was said to have romped with 48-year-old Patricia Tierney - aka Auld Slapper.

June 2006: Coleen McLoughlin arrives for England's World Cup match against Trinidad.

“Foolish as it now seems I did on occasions visit massage parlours and prostitutes," he said.

“I now regret it deeply and hope people may understand that it was the sort of mistake you make when you are young and stupid. It was at a time when I was very young and immature.”

Coleen stood by him and they married two years after Baden-Baden in Portofino, Italy.

But in 2009 - while Coleen was pregnant with their son Kai he embarked on an affair with Jenny Thompson, and allegedly had a threesome with her and prostitute Helen Wood.

Once again, Coleen forgave him. And last year while she was pregnant with their youngest Cass, he was busted drink driving behind the wheel of party pal Laura Simpson's car - prompting his wife to threaten to leave him for good.

She didn't though.

Abbey Clancy

Fresh into her relationship with Peter Crouch, the pair had met just months earlier while she was working in a bar.

Abbey Clancy

But having once declared that her dream was to marry a footballer, her World Cup adventure ended in shame when she was shipped back early after pictures surfaced of her taking cocaine.

The shots were taken two years earlier but Peter was quick to distance himself and dumped her soon after.

"Whilst I do not ordinarily comment upon matters relating to my private life, I have read with dismay various recently articles and reports about my 'relationship' with Abbey Clancy," he said.

"In light of this, I wish to make the situation absolutely clear: Abbey and I were in the very early stages of a relationship which, for a number of reasons, I decided a few weeks ago to end, and I accordingly informed Abi of my decision."

Abbey Clancy

But the pair later reunited, with Peter popping the question in June 2009 during a holiday to Sardinia.

However, he was accused of cheating with a teenage prostitute while she was pregnant with their first born Sophia in 2011.

“It was horrendous. For any woman who is pregnant or had a baby, it’s tough," she later said of her heartbreak, which she put down to being “one of those things”.

They subsequently tied the knot in front of 200 friends and family at Stapleford Park Hotel in Leicestershire, and welcomed daughter Liberty Rose, two, and five-month-old son Johnny.

Alex Curran

England footballer Steven Gerrard with partner Alex Curran and daughter Lilly-Ella in the centre of Baden-Baden, Germany
Wags of England players at the 2006 World Cup

With her expensive-looking highlights and love of the highlife, Steven Gerrard's missus was elevated to the levels of 'uber-WAG'.

In Germany, the former nail technician proved to be such a baller that she ran up a £25,000 hotel bill, which apparently included 60 bottles of £75 pink champers.

The couple married just a year later at Cliveden House hotel in Buckinghamshire, and have four kids.

Elen Rivas

Frank Lampard's then-girlfriend Elen made a name for herself at the 2006 tournament by standing on a bar table and belting out Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive.

And just days earlier she reportedly threw a diva strop when she was stopped from taking six items of carry-on onto the plane.

Frank Lampard and girlfriend Elen Rives

The Spanish model started dating Frank in 2002 and gave birth to their daughter Luna a year before Germany.

They went on to have another daughter, Isla, before splitting without warning in 2009 amid claims Elen had had enough of the cheating allegations levied against her man.

"It was by mutual agreement, but break-ups are never good, especially when you have children," she told the Daily Mail.

"We also had plans for the future: one minute we were planning another baby, the next we parted. Luckily our girls were young enough to be spared the agony of seeing their parents split up."

Elen Rivas and Peter Andre (pic: Rex)

And she admitted losing her sense of self when she was part of the sporting power couple.

"Going out with a footballer means you sometimes lose your own identity. It becomes all about them and no one else. But now my life is far more balanced. It is about me and my girls. And that's how it will remain," she added.

Frank went on to marry presenter Christine Bleakley in a lavish ceremony in 2015, and she's now expecting their first child.

Vanessa Perroncel

Vanessa Perroncel was pregnant with Wayne Bridge's son Jaydon so swerved the booze.

Vanessa Peroncell
Wayne Bridge and girlfriend Vanessa Perroncel in 2008

But when they split in 2009, all hell broke loose when she was accused of having a four-month affair with Wayne's teammate John Terry.

She denied it, John tried to get a gagging order and Wayne quit the England squad because he didn't want to play alongside his former mate.

He even refused to shake his hand when they came face-to-face on the pitch.

John Terry and Wayne Bridge (Pic:AFP/Getty Images)

Vanessa was later linked to Cheryl's ex Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini and Wayne moved on, marrying Saturdays singer Frankie Sandford in 2014.

Melanie Slade

Theo Walcott's girlfriend was the baby of the WAGs and was studying for her GCSE's during the Germany jaunt.

melanie slade

Unlike her glamorous counterparts, Melanie shunned the parties and even rejected a 'too flash' £140,000 Ferrari Theo tried to give her for her 21st birthday.

The couple married in 2013 and have two children together. And while she leads a low-key existence as a fashion writer, she did make a cameo appearance in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part One.

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