Andrew Unangst—Getty Images
By Raisa Bruner
March 21, 2017

In what’s being considered one of the biggest “wine and cheese busts” in recent Italian history, a group of ten people have been arrested by police for stealing more than $250,000 in fine wines and gourmet cheeses.

They were apprehended in the northern city of Modena, known for its top-notch but endangered parmesan production; a single wheel of the valuable, pungent cheese can sell for up to $500.

Operation Wine and Cheese, as this sting is being called, aimed to find and bring to justice a set of people whose expensive taste in vintage bottles and savory dairy products ran far beyond just a casual aperitivo party or a spread of antipasti. In fact, the lucrative market for parmesan in particular is open knowledge in its home region of Emilia-Romagna. At least $7 million in cheese has been stolen in the last two years alone, according to CBS News and Italy’s parmesan consortium. (Because the large wheels must be aged for a year and are often stored in rural environments, the warehouses can become targets for a theft.)

Italian news outlets report that the team of organized criminals apprehended in this new sting were responsible for stealing an alleged 16,000 bottles of wine—worth about $140,000—and 168 wheels of parmesan, adding up to about $110,000.

It remains unclear who, ultimately, got to enjoy the delicious score.

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