Following a four-month investigation, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has announced the arrest of a Pacoima, California, recycling center operator and 10 additional suspects on charges of felony recycling fraud, conspiracy and grand theft. CalRecycle partnered with the California Department of Justice to disrupt the multimillion-dollar recycling fraud operation, which stretched from Nevada and Arizona to Los Angeles County.
The suspects are accused of smuggling out-of-state empty beverage containers into California to defraud the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Fund out of more than $2 million. Since consumers in Nevada and Arizona do not pay California Redemption Value (CRV) deposits on their beverage purchases, those containers are not eligible for CRV redemption funds.
“CalRecycle’s fraud prevention strategies are constantly evolving to protect public funds and make clear that fraudulent CRV redemption schemes will result in arrests, fines and jail time,” says CalRecycle Acting Director Ken DaRosa. “We are grateful to the California Department of Justice for their collaboration in these enforcement activities.”
So far, agents have seized 17,669 pounds of aluminum, 7,554 pounds of plastic and 2,430 pounds of glass from empty beverage containers with a potential redemption value of $38,899.
“Our state’s recycling program is subsidized by our consumers and gives back to Californians who take conscious action to recycle,” says California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We won’t allow cheaters to defraud our publicly funded recycling programs for their selfish gain. My office will continue to hold perpetrators accountable.”