Three felony charges have been filed against Sandia resident Ronnie Martinez. Martinez was arrested on Friday by the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Office for allegedly stealing 27 cattle from a ranch near County Road 440 in Ben Bolt.

Martinez is a former employee at the ranch, according to Sheriff Daniel Bueno.

According to Sgt. Audrey Harper, livestock investigator with the sheriff's department, Martinez took 16 heads of cattle on Jan. 10, seven heads on Feb. 5 and another 4 heads on Feb. 12.

Martinez took the cattle to the local auction barn where they were sold.

"When I took office I made a commit to the ranchers and farmer of Jim Wells County that this kind of criminal activity would not be tolerated. Protecting the ranchers and farmers of Jim Wells County is one of our main concerns," Sheriff Bueno stated.

Bueno reminds all ranchers and farmers to pay attention to their property, and watch their routines and the employees they have, especially former employees.

"Check security gates, don't give out combinations for locks and put a 'do not duplicate' stamp on keys," Sheriff Bueno. "Be responsible. Photograph and brand livestock as well as other property."

The cattle were valued under $20,000. The cattle were sold and will not be recovered, according to Sheriff Bueno.

Other charges are pending.