Florida Men Accused of Stealing Over 2,800 Gallons of Diesel Fuel to Resell

Three Florida men were arrested and face racketeering charges after allegedly stealing thousands of gallons of diesel fuel from gas stations.

Police said the men—27-year-old Leonardo Jesus Valdes Cordero, 44-year-old Alfredo Quintana Marrero and 47-year-old Jose Luis Hernandez Verano—were keeping a ledger that revealed they were reselling the fuel, The Gainesville Sun reported.

The theft comes as gas prices have surged to record highs in the United States following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. GasBuddy reported on Monday gas prices have begun to slowly decline, but it is unclear whether the drop will last, and prices still remain $1.47 higher than last year.

With gas prices still very high, other people in Florida have been stealing gas. This week, investigators from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement arrested another four men Thursday for attempting to steal fuel.

"Our law enforcement investigators, officers and partners are working hard every day to protect Florida consumers and businesses from theft and other fraud at gas stations across our state," FDACS Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement. "Whether individuals are trying to steal fuel like in these situations or credit card data with skimmers, know that our department will continue to crack down on crimes at our gas pumps."

The FDACS did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

A police report said the three Florida men stole more than 2,800 gallons of fuel in Hillsborough and Sumter counties. Additional fuel is believed to have been stolen from Marion County, where they launched the same scheme, but the report did not specify how much was stolen, according to the Sun.

The three men allegedly used credit card skimmers to steal card information from the customers who had used the pump before, the newspaper said. They also used "counterfeit credit cards and devices to alter the fuel dispensing pulsar that controls the flow of fuel from the fuel dispensing pump," according to the Sun.

Each man drove his own pickup truck, with each vehicle outfitted with "gasoline bladders" or tanks that could hold about 300 gallons the Sun reported.

As of Monday, the national average price per gallon was $4.32. In a statement, Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis, said that with gas prices declining, a rise to $4.50 is "off the table" now but remains possible as long as the Russian assault Ukraine continues.

"While the decrease could be short-lived, it is nonetheless a well-needed break from the large surge in gas prices we've experienced over the last few weeks," he said. "The situation remains fluid, and escalations remain very possible, if not likely."

The Florida men were not the only ones who have resorted to theft. Earlier this week, thieves in North Carolina managed to take 400 gallons of gas while people were waiting in line for free fuel.

Update 03/18/22, 11:25 a.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information.

Florida Men Arrested in Gas Theft
Three Florida men were arrested and accused of stealing thousands of gallons of diesel fuel. Above, a gas pump at an Exxon station in Miami on November 22, 2021. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images