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Authorities Bust California Recycling Racket

A ring of enterprising 'entrepreneurs' were smuggling cans and bottles into California from out of state by the truckload—to redeem them for the bottle deposits.

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 11:18 AM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 11:24 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In a three-day 'recycling fraud sting,' California law enforcement and government officials stopped eight truckloads of recyclable bottles and cans from coming into the state over the Arizona border, according to CalRecycle.

The total payload carried by the accused recycling smugglers amounted to nearly 59,000 pounds of empty beverage containers—equivalent to $87,000 if the deposits were redeemed.

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



Total Material Siezed Amount 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

California offers the California Refund Value (CRV) to their consumers, allowing for the return of beverage containers at certified recycling centers for payment ranging from 5 to 10 cents, depending on the size of the container.

Californians pay CRV fees when they purchase drinks in these containers. When bought out of state, the CRV redemptions don't apply.

"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.”

Eight truck drivers were arrested in the sting:

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.
Eduardo Siordia, 46, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

All of the drivers will be charged with felony recycling fraud, conspiracy, and attempted grand theft, according to CalRecycle. Those crimes can carry sentences ranging from six months to three years behind bars.

The sting represented a combined effort between CalRecycle, the California Department of Justice's Recycle Fraud Team, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and California Highway Patrol.

CLICK HERE for more exciting recycling stories closer to home!

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