Eleven people have been arrested on suspicion of participating in a recycling fraud operation in Nevada, Arizona and California, including the operator of a Pacoima recycling center, officials said on Monday.
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, according to Ken DaRosa, acting director of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, known as CalRecycle.
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, DaRosa said.
"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," DaRosa said.
CalRecycle' law enforcement partners within the California Department of Justice uncovered evidence of the large-scale recycling fraud ring during a four-month investigation, DaRosa said.
Agents learned empty beverage containers from Nevada and Arizona were being illegally transported to Los Angeles-area self-storage facilities before being fraudulently redeemed at 15 local recycling centers, including Yulissa Recycling in Pacoima.
The 11 defendants arrested and charged with felony recycling fraud, conspiracy, and grand theft are Yajaira Rojas, 39, Isaiah Rojas, 20, Raul Fernandez, 48, Catalina Hernandez, 40, Enrique Morado-Amador, 57, Jaime Bojado Perez, 63, Jose Orozco-Lopez, 48, Selvin Rodriguez, 44, Amnel Ruano, 31, Arturo Reyes, 47, and Carlos Grimaldi, 60.
If convicted, the suspects face potential sentences of six months to three years behind bars, along with fines, court-ordered restitution, and possible loss of driver's license and/or vehicle.
Anyone with information on recycling fraud or bottle redemption violations was urged to call to CalRecycle's toll free number 800-RECYCLE, or provide information via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.