Alleged Fraudsters Caught Bringing Beverage Cartons from Arizona : Busted! Coke Can Runners Nabbed for Recycling Fraud in California

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A multi-agency sting has resulted in two arrests, the discovery of fraudulent documents, and the recovery of 14,695 pounds (13 metric tonnes) of used beverage containers from Arizona that had been allegedly imported for the purpose of defrauding the California Redemption Value Fund.

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) said that it was joined by the California Department of Justice and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to conduct the five-day operation from March 13 to 17 March.

On March 14, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) agents at a border checkpoint detected a fraudulent Imported Material Report and false Bill of Lading provided by Balmore Alvarado, 49, of Chino, California as he entered California from Arizona.

According to CalRecycle a subsequent inspection of Alvarado’s trailer revealed 7,020 (6 tonnes) pounds of used beverage containers with a potential CRV refund value of $10,275.85.

The sting centered on the CDFA border checkpoint in Blythe, California and the nearby intersection of Agnes Wilson Road and Highway 95, a route often used by individuals in an attempt to circumvent the border checkpoint.

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.

Both drivers now face charges of felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, filing a false or forged document, and conspiracy. If convicted, the men could be subject to financial penalties and incarceration. The charges carry a sentence of between six months and three years.

“CalRecycle’s fraud prevention reforms and substantial network of enforcement partners make it increasingly risky for those attempting to defraud California’s Redemption Value Program,” said CalRecycle director Scott Smithlin.

“The department will continue to use all available resources to make sure CRV deposits go back to California consumers and not in the pockets of criminal enterprises.”

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