On Friday, FBI agents arrested Ruben Ashikyan, 55, Levon Ashikyan, 31, and Grigor Darmandjian, 55, at the Tyson Fresh Meats building near Amarillo, Texas. The three are being charged with conspiracy in the thefts of cargo from meat trucks.
In 2011, FBI launched an investigation after the agency learned that thieves had used inside information to steal an $82,000 load of beef from Tyson.
While investigating the theft, the FBI learned of 24 similar cargo thefts in less than a year. 17 of the thefts involved meat trucks and 10 of those were from the Amarillo area, the Amarillo Globe News reported. The estimated value of the stolen cargo ranged from $720,000 to more than $4 million.
On June 15, 2011, a freight broker contracted with a trucking company to haul a load of ribeye steaks from Amarillo to Chicago. The company picked up the steaks, but the load was never delivered to Chicago.
According to the Amarillo Globe News, last week, the meat broker contacted the FBI after a company inquired about hauling two loads of beef from Amarillo to California. The person who contacted the broker said that he was representing a Michigan carrier. The FBI contacted the Michigan carrier only to learn the company only has one driver and does not have refrigerated trucks.
The FBI then began working with the meat broker on a sting to capture the suspected cargo thieves.
“On Friday, an FBI surveillance team staked out the Tyson plant and arrested Ruben Ashikyan, Levon Ashikyan and Darmanjian at Tyson, court records show,” the Amarillo Globe News reported.
The men, who are Armenian immigrants, will remain in federal custody until a bond hearing.