Two Southern California men were sentenced to jail for bringing thousands of aluminum cans into California from out of state as part of a recycling-fraud operation.
The men operated "multi-state recycling fraud rings" from two public storage facilities in South Gate, said Lance Klug, of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. A five-month investigation revealed that the men used the storage facilities as hubs to smuggle out-of-state used beverage containers into California for the purpose of defrauding the California Redemption Value Fund, Klug said.
Acting on a tip from CalRecycle, the California Department of Justice's Recycling Fraud Team began an investigation into Nova Storage and South Gate Public Self Storage in December. During the investigation, agents saw used beverage containers from Phoenix, Arizona, being hauled to the South Gate storage facilities, then taken to local recycling centers and fraudulently redeemed for California Redemption Value, Klug said.
Agents executed search warrants May 4 at the storage properties.
Agents searched 18 storage units at the two locations and seized 35,479 pounds of aluminum used beverage containers worth an estimated $70,958 in potential CRV, Klug said. They also seized 9,125 pounds of plastic used beverage containers worth an estimated $11,406 in potential CRV.
Francisco Flores, 59, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to charges of felony recycling fraud and was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution. Guillermo Chavez, 62, of Anaheim, pleaded guilty to grand theft and was sentenced to four months in jail and $225,000 in restitution.