A former head cook of Cameron County Juvenile Probation Department, Gilberto Escamilla, has been arrested for a felony theft of stolen fajitas over the past nine years.

Yes. Fa·ji·ta: a dish of Mexican descent consisting of strips of spiced beef or chicken, categorized in the Tex-Mex food, traditionally serves nicely with beans, rice, and tortillas.

According to Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, a total of $1,251,578 worth of fajita meat was stolen from the county. After gathering evidence from Labatt Food Service, Cameron County DA’s investigators concluded Escamilla would intercept county-funded food deliveries to the juvenile detention center and reroute them to his own customers.

Over the course of nine years, Escamilla confessed to authorities, he would communicate directly with the driver of the vendor company when in route and would then transport the fajita meat to different restaurants. County tax dollars purchased about 180,000 pounds of fajita meat over the course of this scheme.

A particular incident on August 7 where a delivery driver transported over eight-hundred pounds of fajita meat, totaling between $2,500 to $30,000, is what originally opened the investigation. Mr. Escamilla was off that day, hence the confusion between the kitchen staff and delivery driver as this location doesn’t serve fajitas to its detainees.

Escamilla was fired the following day, and on August 9 investigators obtained a search warrant for his house and found packages of fajita meat in his refrigerator. He was arrested and posted bond on a first-degree felony theft charge. At this time, the investigation has led to two alleged purchasers who are currently cooperating with officials.

Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz, says the investigation has shown a complete and “total failure” in administration. “Up and down the chain of authority, people were signing off on these things,” Saenz stated, “It’s upsetting because the auditor gets a detailed invoice where it states the breakdown of what’s delivered, so they should’ve seen it.”

Saenz then expressed his discontent with the county and places negligence on Cameron County Auditor Martha Galarza, “What do you tell the taxpayers? They’ve got the right to be upset.”

Unfortunately, this lack of oversight has cost the local taxpayers the $800,000 (short) that’s currently needed to run Cameron County.

Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Texas Scorecard. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.

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