Investigators say Juan Martinez-Barajas stole plastic containers from farmers and then siphoned fuel from farming equipment and storage tanks.
Sheriff's officials say he painted the containers black to conceal the red-dye diesel used in the off-road vehicles to divert suspicion while hauling them in the bed of his pickup truck or ATV.
Officials say Martinez-Barajas would sell the stolen fuel to truckers at half the price.
On Wednesday morning, detectives with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office Ag Task Force tried to pull over Martinez-Barajas in Coalinga, but he sped away.
Deputies tracked down the suspect's truck, which had been abandoned. Several teams from the sheriff's office helped search for Martinez-Barajas, and eventually found him under trees in a dry riverbed.
Martinez-Barajas surrendered, and investigators recovered the stolen items and an AR-15 rifle with no serial numbers.
Detectives had seen an uptick in reports of stolen fuel during August and September, but they believe Martinez-Barajas was stealing around 800 gallons of fuel per week over the last six months, which costs about $60,000.
He was booked into the Fresno County jail on various charges, including grand theft, evading police, illegal possession of a firearm, possession of armor-piercing ammunition.
Officials say he also had an active warrant out for his arrest in connection to a domestic battery case.