21 individuals indicted on grease theft, other charges

By Ron Kotrba | June 21, 2019

A U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon Jr., announced June 20 that 21 individuals have been indicted by a grand jury for their alleged roles in a major grease theft ring in the South.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice and court records, large quantities of used cooking oil were stolen in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, and transported to New Jersey for sale and distribution.

The conspirators allegedly used box trucks equipped with containers designed to store and transport liquids, pumps, hoses and burglary tools to steal large quantities of used cooking oil. A warehouse in Durham, North Carolina, was allegedly used to consolidate and store the stolen grease, after which a tanker truck further transported the stolen biodiesel feedstock to Virginia and beyond.

“Used cooking oil has become a sought-after commodity by biodiesel companies, and restaurants use the sale of this oil as another source of revenue,” said John Eisert, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Charlotte, North Carolina. “This team of coconspirators had an elaborate scheme to steal thousands of gallons of cooking oil for their own profit in violation of several U.S. laws.”

The rendering industry estimates that there is an annual loss of approximately $45 million to $75 million from the theft of used cooking oil.

Many of the 21 defendants are from Mexico, some of whom have also been charged with immigration crimes, including failure to register with immigration officials and harboring aliens. Six of the defendants are currently considered fugitives from justice.

For more information, including the names of those involved and specific charges, click here.


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