Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • 8 Truck Drivers Busted in Bottle and Can Smuggling Sting

    Out-of-State Container Crackdown Prevents $87,000 in CRV Fraud 

    Media Contact: Lance Klug
    (916) 341-6293 | Lance.Klug@calrecycle.ca.gov 

    SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery today announced the arrest of eight truck drivers on charges of felony recycling fraud, conspiracy, and attempted grand theft. Agents with the California Department of Justice’s Recycle Fraud Team made the arrests during a three-day sting operation near the Arizona border with San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

    The suspects are accused of smuggling nearly 59,000 pounds of empty beverage containers from Arizona into California in an attempt to defraud the California Redemption Value Fund of more than $87,000. Since consumers outside California do not pay CRV fees on beverage purchases, out-of-state containers are not eligible for CRV redemptions.

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    CalRecycle photos of evidence gathered at a Blythe, Calif. checkpoint during CDOJ’s three-day recycling fraud interdiction operation in January 2018. 

    “Importing out-of-state empty beverage containers for CRV redemption is a crime,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “To prevent this type of fraud, drivers transporting empty bottles and cans into California are required to pass through one of CDFA’s 16 border inspection stations—and CalRecycle is working alongside our law enforcement partners to make sure that happens.”

    In coordination with CalRecycle and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California DOJ agents conducted the targeted operation from January 23 through January 25, 2018, at CDFA border protection stations in Vidal and Blythe, Calif.

    Under California law, drivers transporting out-of-state empty beverage containers are required to declare the material by submitting an Imported Materials Report at one of 16 CDFA border inspection stations across the state. It is a violation of the law if vehicle operators:

    • Fail to stop at a CDFA border inspection station
    • Willfully avoid a CDFA border inspection station
    • Refuse to allow inspection of loads containing empty beverage containers
    • Knowingly submit false information

    As a result of the California DOJ operations, the following drivers were arrested and booked at the Riverside County Jail: Tim Bristol, 55, of Tucson, Ariz.; Miguel Dominguez-Lopez, 40, of Los Angeles, Calif.; Henry Juarez, 53, of Oxnard, Calif.; Oscar Lopez, 62, of Mesa, Ariz.; Jose Mineros, 45, of Rialto, Calif.; Tony Perez, 21, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Eduardo Pineda Salcedo, 27, of Perris, Calif.; and Eduardo Siordia, 46, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

    Material Seized, Amount, and Potential CRV Value:

    • Aluminum Used Beverage Containers: 38,890 lbs., $62,224.00
    • Plastic Used Beverage Containers, 20,007  lbs., $24,808.68
    • Total: 58,897 lbs., $87,032.68

    In addition to financial consequences, convictions for recycling fraud and related crimes can carry sentences ranging from six months to three years behind bars. 

    CalRecycle’s Beverage Container Recycling Program Fraud Prevention Measures

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

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Apr 30, 2018

  • Five Arrested in $80.3 Million Recycling Fraud Conspiracy

    Processor Accused of Adjusting Weight Tickets to Defraud CRV Fund

    Media Contact: Lance Klug
    (916) 341-6293 | Lance.Klug@calrecycle.ca.gov

    SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery is announcing Grand Jury indictments and subsequent arrests of five people charged with operating a multi-year recycling fraud scheme from the Recycling Services Alliance (RSA) Corporation in Sacramento County. The owner of RSA and four employees are accused of fraudulently processing out-of-state empty beverage containers for California Redemption Value refunds and conspiring to manufacture fraudulent weight tickets to justify state payments and reimbursement claims.

    “CalRecycle took decisive action to suspend RSA from the Beverage Container Recycling Program in 2016 as our internal audit and the California Department of Justice’s criminal investigation progressed,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “Recycling fraud is a serious crime and CalRecycle will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to disrupt these schemes and protect public funds.”  

    Investigation Background

    On May 15, 2015, the California Department of Justice’s Recycling Fraud Team launched an investigation into RSA after receiving information the Sacramento facility was illegally receiving out-of-state material from various recycling centers and conspiring to defraud the Beverage Container Recycling Fund. As CDOJ pursued its criminal inquiry, CalRecycle staff worked alongside the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Measurement Standards and the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s Weights and Measures Division to investigate the CRV reimbursement claims submitted by RSA and the weight tickets used to support those claims.

    On May 11, 2016, while CDOJ Recycling Fraud Team agents continued the criminal investigation, CalRecycle’s legal staff initiated the informal hearing process to suspend RSA’s participation in the CRV program.  On May 13, 2016, CalRecycle issued a Notice of Suspension to RSA.

    As a result of the investigation, which included search warrants and employee interviews, CDOJ agents and CalRecycle staff uncovered an organized effort to generate inaccurate, altered, or falsified weight tickets to increase CRV reimbursement claims from the fund. CalRecycle concluded that RSA’s CRV claims submitted from January 2012 to December 2015, which totaled $80,331,217.19, were based on fraudulent weight tickets.

    Criminal Indictments

    Grand Jury proceedings from Dec. 4 through Dec. 7, 2017, resulted in the criminal indictments of five suspects on a total of 166 counts, including grand theft, recycling fraud, perjury, and conspiracy. RSA owner Shengchien Tseng, 49, of Cupertino; weighmaster Maximina Perez, 50, of San Leandro; assistant weighmaster Alejandra Lazaro Martinez, 26, of Hayward; assistant weighmaster Veronica Castillo, 35, of Sacramento; and assistant weighmaster Marlene Davalos-Mendez, 28, of Rocklin, were arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Jail.

    The next hearing is scheduled for June 5, 2018, in Sacramento County. The California Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting these cases.        

    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.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Apr 26, 2018

  • Eleven Arrested in Summer Recycling Fraud Stings

     Agents shut down two Reno-to-Sacramento smuggling pipelines

    Media Contact: Lance Klug
    (916) 341-6293
    lance.klug@calrecycle.ca.gov


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Justice has released the findings from two recycling fraud investigations resulting in 11 arrests in the summer of 2016. Each case involved the collection, illegal transport, and fraudulent redemption of out-of-state used beverage containers through the California Redemption Value program.

    “One by one, CalRecycle and its enforcement partners are targeting and dismantling these recycling fraud organizations,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “CalRecycle will not tolerate these smuggling operations to defraud the CRV program of deposits that rightfully belong to California consumers.”

    ———————-

    Wife, Husband, and Family Arrested for Recycling Fraud

    Who: Rocio Zamora, 45, Rio Linda; Santiago Zamora, 53, Rio Linda; Margarita Medrano, 36, Rio Linda; Idelfonso Salas, 36, Rio Linda; Ulises Adame, 28, Rio Linda

    What: Arrested on charges of conspiracy, grand theft, and felony recycling fraud

    When: Aug. 18, 2016 (investigation launched in December 2015)

    On Dec. 15, 2015, agents with CDOJ’s Recycling Fraud Team were conducting an investigation at a recycling center in Reno, Nev., when they observed Rocio and Santiago Zamora loading used beverage containers into a rental truck. Agents followed the truck into California on a route designed to avoid a required stop at the California Department of Food and Agriculture border checkpoint in Truckee.  Agents continued their surveillance to the couple’s residence on 32nd Avenue in Rio Linda and then to a nearby storage facility. The couple was later seen redeeming the plastic and aluminum at recycling centers in Rio Linda and Sacramento.

    Subsequent surveillance operations revealed similar activity and additional storage lockers in Yuba City and Rio Linda. Agents also observed frequent redemptions at nearby recycling centers in the area. The investigation led to the identification of three additional family members, believed to be conspiring to defraud the California Redemption Value program by illegally importing and redeeming out-of-state used beverage containers.

    On Aug. 18, 2016, CDOJ agents served search warrants at the Zamoras’ residence and Yuba City Self Storage on Steward Road. Agents arrested five suspects and seized an assault rifle, two handguns, and a semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle. The Zamoras’ storage locker was found to contain 1,520 pounds of aluminum and 840 pounds of plastic used beverage containers with a potential California Redemption Value of $3,386.

    ——-

    Tip Brings Down Recycling Fraud Scheme

    Who: Marco Rodriguez-Montano, 38, Carson City, Nev.; Jose Martinez-Lozano, 49, Fernley, Nev.; Francisco Limon, 61, Reno, Nev.; Juan Valdez, 40, Reno, Nev.; Herlindo Samayoa, 46, Sacramento; Erendida Ramirez, 58, Sacramento.

    What: Arrested on charges of Conspiracy, Grand Theft and Felony Recycling Fraud

    When: June 1 and 2, 2016 (Investigation launched in May 2015) 

    On May 29, 2015, agents with CDOJ’s Recycling Fraud Team launched an investigation after receiving a tip regarding used beverage containers from Nevada recycling centers being transported into California without legally required documentation. Information led agents to facilities in Reno and Fernley, Nev., where they identified Marco Rodriguez-Montano as a primary suspect. Herlindo Samayoa and four other people were identified as co-conspirators in a scheme to defraud the California Redemption Value Fund.

     During the course of the investigation, agents observed multiple loads of used beverage containers being loaded into rented moving trucks in Reno, Nev. The suspects took the material across state lines using routes designed to avoid required stops at the CDFA border checkpoint in Truckee. The used beverage containers were taken to a storage facility on Weyand Drive in Sacramento before winding up at a nearby recycling center.

     On June 1, 2016, CDOJ agents served search warrants at two locations in Sacramento —8585 Weyand Drive and 4226 Barbara St.—and one in Carson City, Nev., at 3250 Banjo Circle. Juan Valdez, Francisco Limon, and Herlindo Samayoa were arrested at the Weyand location, while Marco Rodriguez-Montano was arrested in Carson City. Agents seized 3,580 pounds of aluminum and 2,340 pounds of plastic used beverage containers from the truck and the Weyand storage facility. The material had a potential California Redemption Value of $8,452.

    The following day, agents served a search warrant at the Tepeyac Market on West Main Street in Fernley, Nev., and arrested Jose Martinez-Lozano. A sixth suspect, Erendida Ramirez, was arrested on Sept. 19, 2016.

    ————————

    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.

     The California Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of CalRecycle, which has administrative authority over the state’s beverage container recycling program. 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.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Oct 13, 2016