Authorities said Gilberto Escaramilla had some of the stolen fajitas in his own refrigerator Wikimedia

A former south Texas Juvenile Justice Department employee has been arrested after authorities say he stole an extraordinary $1.25m (£940,000) worth of fajitas over nine years.

Gilberto Escaramilla was fired in August after police found packages of the popular Tex-Mex foodstuff in the refrigerator at his home.

Investigators subsequently checked vendor invoices and found he would intercept county-funded food deliveries and deliver them to his own customers.

"If it wasn't so serious, you'd think it was a Saturday Night Live skit. But this is the real thing," Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz told The Brownsville Herald.

Escaramilla's alleged scam was thwarted when he missed work one day in August for a medical appointment and a delivery driver showed up with 800 pounds (360kg) of fajitas.

A female employee told the driver he must be mistaken because the kitchen did not serve fajitas.

That was when he told her he had been delivering fajitas to the Juvenile Justice Department for the past nine years, Saenz said.

"The receiver of the call rushes off to the supervisor and conveys to her the discussion that had been had, and that breaks the case," Saenz said. "When Mr Escaramilla reports to work the next day, he is confronted with the discussion and he admits he had been stealing fajitas for nine years."

A subsequent search of his house by police uncovered fajitas in his refrigerator. Invoices and purchase orders also recovered left investigators to conclude Escaramilla had stolen $1,251,578 worth of fajitas.

"He would literally, on the day he ordered them, deliver them to customers he had already lined up," Saenz said. "We've been able to uncover two of his purchasers, and they are cooperating with the investigation."

Escaramilla was arrested on Tuesday (10 October) on a first-degree theft felony.

The Juvenile Justice Department said it is working closely with auditors to ensure nothing like this can happen again.

Saenz said: "What do you tell the taxpayers? What do you tell the housewife and the blue collar worker that pay their county taxes, when paying their taxes takes a big bite out of their paycheck? How do you explain that? They've got the right to be upset. It is upsetting."