A Texas man has been charged with misappropriating fajitas over a nine year period. The total value of the diverted fajitas is $1,251,578. The suspect is Gilberto Escaramillo, a former employee of the Cameron County Juvenile Justice department (CCJJD). He admitted to stealing the fajitas when a truck full of 800 pounds of fajitas attempted a delivery to him at his workplace while he was out for a medical appointment. Apparently he was diverting the fajitas from the CCJJD and selling them. A search warrant of his home was executed and a number of illicit fajitas were discovered in his freezer.
Fajitas are a Tex-Mex dish made from slices of grilled beef, pork, chicken, lamb, or shrimp, salmon or vegetables served on a taco, or flour or cornmeal tortilla. Traditional accompaniments include sautéed onions, green and red peppers, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce or cheese, refried beans, or diced tomatoes. They are very savory and satisfying, with a pleasant aroma, and enjoyable texture in the mouth, so it is understandable why they would be a target for diversion. Consumption of fajitas will activate the nucleus accumbens, which is the part of the brain responsible for the perception of pleasure. Fajitas will also trigger release of dopamine and produce the three part dopamine reward/reinforcement cycle similar to what is seen with heroin or crack cocaine:
- That tasted good and smelled good
- Don’t’ forget
- Have another
It should be noted that excessive consumption can lead to weight gain as they contain about 400 calories and 15 grams of fat per serving, depending how which accompaniments are chosen. While the manufacture, possession, consumption , or transportation of fajitas is not a crime, diverting approximately 1.2 million dollars’ worth of them is.
The motive for this crime is obvious: to make a profit. Escaramillo has apparently been doing this for almost a decade, without discovery. What may have started out as a one-time only or brief period of diversion turned into an ongoing criminal enterprise. The desire for operating a successful business, turning a substantial profit, and enjoying success and financial growth and security are worthwhile goals. While most choose prosocial means to reach these goals, others turn to antisocial means. When the apparent ease of gaining illicit profits without discovery is realized it may be difficult for an individual to stop, and they may tell themselves they will do it just one more time, or for another month. They will promise themselves they will stop before they are discovered, but the temptation of easy money will keep them going. The same dynamic is similar with the sale of illicit drugs, or other illegal commodities.
While the subject of this story is somewhat comical, the theft of 1.2 dollars is no laughing matter. Mr. Escaramillo is going to have some difficult times in the months ahead. Before entering into an illicit business arrangement, the question if the risk is worth the reward really must be carefully weighed.