Five Florida residents were arrested Monday and charged with felony theft by taking after they were encountered stealing hundreds of pounds of berries from palmetto bushes on state property on Laura Walker Road, said Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal.
Georgia Forestry and Department of Natural Resources officers happened upon the theft and called Ware County lawmen to assist them at about 5 p.m. Monday. The five men were taken into custody and booked into the Ware County jail.
Being held are Ever Carrillo, 24, Arturo Gomes, 38, Hermitanio Tomes, 30, Pedro Mata, 50, and Filemeno Ramirez Cruz, 36, all of of Immakolee, Fla., Royal said.
“They had stolen hundreds of pounds of berries off state property,” said Royal, who said the stolen berries was recovered by the lawmen.
Georgia Forestry Law Enforcement Unit Chief William J. Leitch secured warrants on the five for felony theft by taking, Royal said.
“They all remain in the Ware County jail this morning,” Royal said.
According to the Internet, the berries, which grow in pods, are a big crop in August and September and sell for as much as $3 per pound. Palmetto berries are used in tonics, herbal teas, saw palmetto, viagra and other medications, traditional and alternative.