He diverted $68,000 worth of dairy products to a rival cheese company.
Smuggled Mexican cheese
Credit: Hoberman Collection / Contributor / Getty Images

A new lawsuit alleges that a “rogue importer” stole $68,000 of "artisan, aged specialty cheese imported from Mexico" from a Wheaton, Illinois company called Food Brands, in order to pay his personal debts, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

The lawsuit says that the importer teamed up with another company, called Queso Finos Mexicanos, his former employee, to redirect a shipment of the San Miguel brand cheese from their original delivery address at South Lockwood Ave in Chicago. The fifteen pallets of stolen cheeses ended up at Queso Finos’ headquarters in Alsip, Illinois.

Foods Brands claims they have the exclusive rights to sell the San Miguel brand cheese.

Apparently, the importer in question owed Queso Finos a personal debt – which he planned to pay back with the shipment of fancy cheese. The lawsuit claims that Queso Finos planned to sell the cheese under their brand.

Now Food Brands wants their cheese back, but allege that Queso Finos has ignored their repeated requests for cooperation. A judge has already ordered Queso Finos to not sell the cheese until the mystery of how – and why – it ended up in their headquarters, is solved.

Food Brands only caught wind of the scheme because the desperate importer tattled on himself. Yes, in a sudden change of heart, he provided the company with documents, including invoices and emails, that implicate Queso Finos in another shady deal between that company and producer of the cheese. Perhaps that last minute return to ethics is why the importer is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The nature of the mysterious personal debt the smuggler seemed to owe Queso Finos, as well as the means by which partners managed to divert presumably a truck full of cheese away from it’s destination has yet to be determined. Maybe some Italian Job-style traffic light hacking was involved? Probably not, though. The cheese heist remains an intriguing riddle – one perhaps best recreated in a blockbuster starring George Clooney. Actually, we'd totally see that movie...