The Texas Fajita Heist: A Case for Capital Punishment?

By John Adam Gosham and Charles Norwood▸

We are entering into a dark epoch for Tex-Mex cuisine. Just days ago, a Texan man who pleaded guilty to stealing $1.2 million worth of fajitas received his sentence: 50 years in prison. Even with this lengthy prison term, we still must ask: has justice been served? Is 50 years really enough for stealing fajitas?

This sad fajita mourns its irretrievable compadres
Gilberto Escamilla’s plan was simple enough. He would order fajitas through his county-funded work place, the Darrel B. Hester Detention Center, only to reroute them to customers of his own for profit. In 2017, the scheme was thwarted when 800 pounds of fajitas were delivered to the detention center and Escamilla wasn’t there to pick them up. The fact that fajitas weren’t on the detention center’s menu was a red flag. The cache of county-funded fajitas in Escamilla's refrigerator was the smoking gun.

Escamilla’s guilty plea won him little mercy. The county prosecutors asked for a Texas-sized prison term, and visiting State District Judge J. Manuel Banales gave it to them. This sends a message to public-sector employees: don’t mess with the public coffers, or your life as you know it is over.

But is Mr. Escamilla’s life really over? Only in a matter of speaking. He will still, after all, occupy a prison cell and continue to use up taxpayer money for five decades. This means clothing, recreation and three square meals a day—perhaps sometimes even fajitas. According to one source, Texas taxpayers pay $50.79 per inmate per day, or $18,538 per year.  That’s $929,150 over the course of Mr. Escamilla’s sentence. Turns out, it will cost almost as much as Mr. Escamilla stole in order to keep him alive and imprisoned. So why keep him alive?

Now, capital punishment is a complex and multifaceted issue, and should not be taken lightly. However, in this case it seems clear-cut that death would have been the more sensible sentence. By letting the guilty party live, it’s like he’s stealing those fajitas all over again. Lethal injection, on the other hand, would prevent the guilty from essentially committing the crime twice. Moreover, it would send an even more powerful message to anyone handling tax dollars, from peons like Escamilla right up to police, politicians and even state district judges: if you misuse our money in any way, you will pay the ultimate price. Death.

The case for capital punishment grows more compelling when we consider the cultural toll of Escamilla’s crime. For a very long time to come, the average Texas taxpayer will get a bad taste in his or her mouth even at the simple thought of fajitas. This is the sentence an untold number of Texans and Tex-Mex restauranteurs have just started serve. This very real pain should also be taken into account in meting out truly just sentences for monsters like Mr. Escamilla.

We are moving toward a hot-blooded, lex talionis mentality here. Some might say we should be ashamed of this. But is that true? No, it isn't. We can’t ignore the real victims. The fajitas. In the aftermath of Mr. Escamilla’s crimes, their stories will never be told. All they wanted was to be a part of the American dream—that is, to be a part of the cycle of consumption. Instead, their fates will remain forever undocumented, their incalculable markup swallowed into an untaxable void. Thus, we must never forget the victims of any crime when contemplating our most fittingly barbaric sentences: justice is, much like fajitas, far more satisfying when served red hot.


John Adam Gosham and Charles Norwood are regular contributors to Ewedrooper. Gosham is the author of The Stink Ape: An Erotic Ensemble. Norwood is a co-founder of, and author of Epistemology Bloody Epistemology: An Academic Satire.

Image attribution: By Lenin and McCarthy [CC BY-SA 3.0  (], from Wikimedia Commons