RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal agents say they’ve mopped up a theft ring involving 21 co-conspirators, responsible for stealing a precious commodity: $3.9 million worth of used cooking oil known as “yellow grease.”
A federal indictment unsealed Thursday says the thieves targeted eateries in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia for five years, pumping used oil from restaurant storage tanks into trucks for shipment around the country.
This oil is greasy gold for biodiesel companies. U.S. Agriculture Department data show a 100-pound load of “yellow grease” is worth $25.
A statement from U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon Jr. says the oil rendering industry loses between $45 million and $75 million to oil theft each year.
The suspects face conspiracy and money laundering charges that carry prison sentences of up to 25 years.