April 19, 2013
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Malheur County Sheriff's Office
According to Senior Trooper Jason Reese, on April 17, 2013 at approximately 1:00 p.m., a commercial truck pulling a semi-trailer loaded with blackberries pulled into the westbound Interstate 84 Port of Entry in Ontario. ODOT Motor Carrier Safety Inspector Robert Goins saw a large fuel tank attached underneath the semi-trailer in a place he had never seen during his 25 years working in the field of commercial vehicles. ODOT contacted OSP troopers at the Ontario Area Command office who responded to the Port of Entry and inspected the trailer and attached fuel tank.
After speaking with the truck's owner/operator, ALEXY ROMERO PEREZ, age 37, from Homestead, Florida, and completing the initial inspection, the truck and semi-trailer were seized pending further investigation.
Suspecting the fuel tank may contain illegal drugs, OSP Drug Enforcement Section detectives responded to assist. An OSP trooper attending an out-of-area training class was contacted and shared the information with the course instructor who suspected the driver may be involved with diesel fuel theft. The instructor shared details from past known incidents, including what to looke for, to help investigators.
Working in conjunction with the Malheur County District Attorney's Office, OSP obtained a search warrant. Further inspection confirmed the tank, that didn't have any fuel lines leading from it, contained approximately 140 gallons of diesel fuel. Investigators also found a device in the truck used when fueling to cause the pump to stop counting gallons. This device was exactly as described by the class instructor. According to a receipt OSP found for a fueling station in Utah where PEREZ last fueled, it showed he purchased 1.5 gallons of diesel. Investigators believe over 100 gallons of diesel was pumped at the fueling station into the tank. A Utah law enforcement agency assisted OSP and took a report from the fueling station.
PEREZ was subsequently arrested and lodged in the Malheur County Jail on a charge of Theft in the Second Degree. The investigation is continuing to determine if he may be involved in other fuel thefts as he traveled across the country.
The company for which PEREZ was transporting the load of blackberries was contacted and arrangements were made to off-load the berries to a different trailer for delivery to a destination in Washington State.