On September 13th, 2018

Eight Arrested in Summer Recycling Fraud Sweeps Sweeps prevented nearly $83,000 in illegal redemptions of out-of-state containers

SACRAMENTO – On September 12, 2018, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the arrest of eight people accused of attempting to defraud the State’s Beverage Container Recycling Program by smuggling out-of-state empty beverage containers for illegal California Redemption Value (CRV) redemption.

The arrests occurred in San Bernardino and Imperial Counties during the months of June, July and August.

  • On June 6, 2018 in Barstow, California Department of Justice (DOJ) special agents arrested Moises Morgan-Gomez, of Las Vegas, for transporting a semi-truck filled with empty beverage containers from a Las Vegas construction yard for the purpose of collecting fraudulent CRV redemptions in California. Morgan-Gomez was charged with Felony Recycling Fraud, Attempted Grand Theft, and Conspiracy. Special agents seized 1,480 pounds of aluminum and 6,260 pounds of plastic empty beverage containers with an estimated CRV value of $10,142.
  • On July 16 and 17, 2018, in Needles, CalRecycle, CDFA, and DOJ seized 33,639 pounds of aluminum and 13,623 pounds of plastic empty beverage containers with an estimated CRV value of $71,260. Over the two-day operation, suspects in five vehicles were found to be transporting out-of-state empty beverage containers from Nevada to California with intent to defraud California’s CRV fund. Agents arrested Jose Ramirez, Juan Higuera, Romeo Turcios, Ricardo Flores, Mario Tolentino and Rafael Escobar on charges including Felony Recycling Fraud, Attempted Grand Theft, and Conspiracy.
  • On August 15, 2018, in Winterhaven, DOJ Recycling Fraud Team agents arrested Mary Simpson, an Arizona recycling center owner, suspected of smuggling empty beverage containers into California in an attempt to defraud California’s CRV fund. Special agents seized 907 pounds of aluminum empty beverage containers with an estimated CRV value of $1,451, this was in addition to materials she had brought in previously. According to the complaint, Simpson imported approximately 468,000 pounds of aluminum worth an estimated $748,800 in CRV into California over the past three years.

“Unscrupulous individuals who collect cans and plastic bottles in California’s neighboring states and bring them into California for redemption are stealing from all of us who pay deposits on our beverage containers and recycle them,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  “This is not a harmless crime, it impacts the funds paid out for recycling and brings in additional trash to be dealt with and recycled here.”

California’s beverage container recycling program, administered by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), encourages recycling through a 5- to 10-cent deposit on CRV-eligible beverage containers. Consumers can redeem their containers at privately-owned recycling centers certified by CalRecycle. Recycling centers are responsible for ensuring that only eligible bottles and cans that are sold in California, where the CRV deposit was paid, are redeemed.

Working in partnership with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and other state and local partners, the California Department of Justice’s Recycling Fraud Team agents recovered more than 56,000 pounds of material worth an estimated $82,853 in potential redemptions.

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