California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

For Immediate Release
April 12, 2017
Release #2017-03

For more information contact:
Lance Klug

 

Recycling Fraud Sting Nets Two Arrests: Agents Target Common Arizona-to-California Beverage Container Smuggling Route

SACRAMENTO–A successful multi-agency recycling fraud sting has resulted in two arrests, the discovery of fraudulent documents, and the recovery of 14,695 pounds of used beverage containers from Arizona that had been allegedly imported for the purpose of defrauding the California Redemption Value Fund.

Trailer with bags of beverage containers

CalRecycle photo of evidence seized during
March 14 interdiction at CDFA border checkpoint
in Blythe, Calif.

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery joined the California Department of Justice and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to conduct the five-day operation from March 13 to 17.

“CalRecycle’s fraud prevention reforms and substantial network of enforcement partners make it increasingly risky for those attempting to defraud California’s Redemption Value Program,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “The department will continue to use all available resources to make sure CRV deposits go back to California consumers and not in the pockets of criminal enterprises.”

The sting centered on the CDFA border checkpoint in Blythe, Calif., and the nearby intersection of Agnes Wilson Road and Highway 95, a route often used by individuals in an attempt to circumvent the border checkpoint.

On March 14, CDFA agents at the border checkpoint detected a fraudulent Imported Material Report and false Bill of Lading provided by Balmore Alvarado, 49, of Chino, Calif., as he entered California from Arizona. A subsequent inspection of Alvarado’s trailer revealed 7,020 pounds of used beverage containers with a potential CRV refund value of $10,275.85.

Trailer with bags of beverage containers

CalRecycle photo of evidence seized during
March 16 interdiction near Intake Blvd. and
Hobson Way in Blythe, Calif.

On March 16, CDOJ Recycling Fraud Team agents conducted surveillance on a semi-truck, found to be importing used beverage containers from Parker, Ariz., into Blythe, Calif., via Agnes Wilson Road. CDOJ agents contacted Anthony Sanchez, 56, of Tucson, Ariz., and discovered his trailer filled with 7,675 pounds of used beverage containers with a potential CRV refund value of $9,636.79. Sanchez also presented a fraudulent Bill of Lading and did not have an Imported Material Report, required for anyone who transports used beverage containers into California.

Both drivers face charges of felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, filing a false or forged document, and conspiracy. If convicted, the men could be subject to financial penalties and incarceration. The charges carry a sentence of between six months and three years.

At a Glance: CalRecycle’s Recycling Fraud Prevention Measures

California’s Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act incentivizes recycling through a California Redemption Value (CRV) fee paid by California consumers at the time of purchase and refunded upon return of the empty beverage containers to CalRecycle-certified recycling centers. Because the fee is not paid on beverages purchased outside the state, those containers are not eligible for CRV redemption.

In addition to CalRecycle’s interagency agreements with CDOJ and CDFA, CalRecycle aggressively combats fraud and illicit payments through enhanced precertification training of recycling center owners; probationary reviews of recycling centers; oversight of certified processors; monitoring and tracking of imported materials; risk assessment of daily claims for reimbursement; daily load limits; application of prepayment controls; and post-payment reviews and investigations.

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CalRecycle is the state's leading authority on recycling, waste reduction, and product reuse. CalRecycle plays an important role in the stewardship of California's vast resources and promotes innovation in technology to encourage economic and environmental sustainability. For more information, visit www.calrecycle.ca.gov.

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