Florida men arrested for stealing $500,000 worth of tequila, police say

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BlakeDavidTaylor/iStock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Four Floridians were set for one heck of a New Year's Eve party.

Police arrested four men in Hillsborough County on Dec. 31 after they allegedly tried to steal more than $500,000 worth of premium tequila.

The men -- identified as Vidal Estrada, 66, Lemuel Escobar, 35, Humberto Ramirez, 37, and Alberto Obaya, 46 -- were arrested near Tampa, Florida, after officers caught them with nearly 1,000 cases of stolen Patron Tequila, police said Monday.

The goods have an estimated retail value of about $507,105, police said.

Officers with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the men stole the liquor from a transportation truck in Tampa at around 11 p.m. Sunday when the driver stopped for dinner.

The driver reported his semitrailer missing before midnight and police said they caught the suspects "red handed" transferring the stolen goods into another vehicle nearby, the office said in a statement.

Before the deputies moved in, the men had transferred over 20 cases of tequila into a trailer registered in their names, according to the statement.

"Deputies recovered over half a million dollars of Patron Tequila last night when they caught four thieves red handed trying to get away with the merchandise," the sheriff's office said in a statement Monday. "They observed the four men listed above transferring cases of Patron Tequila to another box truck that was registered to them."

Vidal, Ramirez and Obaya were arrested without issue at the scene, but Escobar attempted to flee and was arrested after a brief chase, the office said.

The suspects were each charged with grand theft, resisting an officer and burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, court records show. Obaya faces an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance.

They were released on bond Monday afternoon. It's unclear if they have obtained attorneys.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the case in still under investigation.

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