Food truck business scammed dozens of victims for nearly $200k, sheriff says

At least 28 people were affected, according to BCSO

SAN ANTONIO – A business that sold and repaired food trucks was caught scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims, according to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.

Tu Trailita, a company that manufactures food trailers based on the South Side, swindled at least 28 victims out of more than $186,000 total, Salazar said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

“I don’t know if these people ever actually built a single trailer, I think they were in the business of ripping people off,” the sheriff said.

One of the owners, Miguel Angel Cuellar Lopez, 57, was arrested and charged with three counts of theft, including two state jail felonies and one third-degree felony.

His son, Miguel Angel Cuellar Martinez, 32, is also charged with the same three counts of theft. However, he has not been arrested, Salazar said, because authorities believe he is vacationing in Mexico with the stolen money.

Salazar did not say whether the sheriff’s office was attempting to track him down or if he would be arrested if he returned to Bexar County.

The father-and-son duo operated Tu Trailita. They “preyed upon” people looking to start their own food truck businesses by promising to sell or repair food trucks, Salazar said.

The business operated from a sub-leased parking lot owned by a legitimate used car dealership near Interstate 35 and Division Avenue.

They would accept down payments from customers then delay delivery, ask for more money and “never would produce these trailers,” Salazar said.

Sometimes, they would offer to repair broken food trucks for customers, take them in, fix them up, sell them to another business and keep the profits.

Business targeted immigrants

The pair often targeted immigrants — some of them undocumented — thinking they were less likely to go to the authorities for fear of legal repercussions, Salazar said.

However, immigrants should not be afraid to make reports to law enforcement if they’re victims of crimes because there are legal protections in certain cases, he said.

“These are people not looking for a hand-out... They’re looking to make a living through hard work,” Salazar said. “And these are predators that are looking to take advantage of that.”

Some of the victims were from other states besides Texas.

The case was first brought to BCSO by LULAC, a longtime Latino civil rights organization. Representatives of the group appeared at the press conference and thanked Salazar.

Tu Trailita developed a reputation by being featured in questionable online business articles.

They also had an online social media presence, which further sold their image of being a legitimate business.

Some of the victims took to the Better Business Bureau to report their schemes.

“It wouldn’t surprise me to find out if there was some organized crime component to this,” Salazar said.

About the Authors

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.

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