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Updated: 12/16/2013 01:02:01PM

Two charged with stealing tomatoes, crates

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PUNTA GORDA — Two Immokalee men were arrested Sunday after they allegedly tried to drive away from a Punta Gorda farm with a truck full of almost $8,000 worth of tomatoes and crates. Deputies were called to Williams Farm located on Neal Road in eastern Charlotte County after the farm owner caught up with a farm truck that had left his farm without unloading their cargo of tomatoes. The Sheriff’s Office’s agricultural detective responded to investigate the complaint. According to witnesses, J. Jesus Bustamante-Rodriguez, 53, of Justice Circle in Immokalee, the driver of the truck, and Agustin Salas Ortiz, 24, of Alachua Street in Immokalee, his passenger, left the farm property with six pallets of tomatoes and one pallet of empty tomato boxes. They were not given permission by the farm owner nor anyone else to leave without unloading their cargo.

It was estimated that there were about 13,000 tomatoes, worth almost $5,500, in the truck. The crates were valued at more than $2,000. Both Bustamante-Rodriguez and Ortiz were charged with coordinating the theft of farm produce or equipment valued at $3,000 or more. Both men were released after posting a $3,500 bond.

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