Agents, CHP Thwart Phoenix-Based Recycling Fraud Scheme
Suspect takes 70-mile detour to avoid California border checkpoint
SACRAMENTO–The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery is announcing the arrest of a Los Angeles truck driver on charges of felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, and conspiracy. The suspect is accused of illegally transporting used beverage containers from Arizona to California with the intent to defraud the California Redemption Value Fund.
“CalRecycle is staying on the offense with some of the most aggressive recycling-fraud prevention efforts in the nation,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “Our enforcement partners will continue to follow every lead, monitor suspected traffickers, and disrupt these criminal organizations before they have a chance to rip off California consumers.”
On July 19, 2016, California Department of Justice Recycling Fraud Team agents witnessed a blue semi-truck with a white trailer being loaded with used beverage containers in Phoenix, Ariz. Agents later followed the truck into California, then observed as the driver took a 70-mile detour to avoid the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) checkpoint in Blythe, Calif. Agents stopped the truck with assistance from the California Highway Patrol.
Julio Bolanos, 40, of Los Angeles stated he was transporting cans from Arizona and did not have a shipment receipt or Imported Material Report, which are legally required to import used beverage containers into California. If Bolanos had gone through the CDFA checkpoint, he would have been required to declare the contents of his load and produce the documentation mentioned above. An examination of the trailer revealed approximately 7,000 pounds of bottles and cans worth an estimated $11,000 in potential California Redemption Value.
The tractor-trailer was impounded and Bolanos was arrested on charges of felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, and conspiracy. He faces six months to three years in prison if convicted.
At a Glance: CalRecycle’s Fraud Prevention Efforts
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.