SACRAMENTO—On July 1, 2020, CalRecycle announced that California Department of Justice special agents arrested nine suspects allegedly involved in an organized recycling fraud ring that stretched from Phoenix to Los Angeles. The network of buyers, sellers, baggers, loaders and drivers are believed to be responsible for smuggling semi-truck loads of out-of-state containers into California for fraudulent redemption at numerous Southern California recycling centers.
“Recycling fraud drains a fund that all of us in California pay into when we purchase beverages in bottles and cans,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Thank you to the special agents who spent months investigating this case and arresting the suspects.”
During the months-long investigation, those arrested allegedly brought truckloads of non-redeemable material from Arizona to storage facilities and recycling centers in Southern California in order to receive money and defraud California’s CRV fund. CalRecycle reports, drivers deliberately took a long, circuitous route in order to avoid inspection by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
- Raymundo Montoya,
- Sergio Hernandez,
- Ignacio Razo,
- Marvin Ren Amira Chali,
- Tomas Dominguez,
- Irving Dominguez Flores,
- Michael Dominguez,
- Job Robles-Pelaez,
- and Zayda Garcia Mejia.
They have been charged with felony recycling fraud, conspiracy, and grand theft. Additionally, the truck drivers involved may face suspension of their commercial driver licenses and impounding of their tractor-trailers.
If convicted, they face up to three years behind bars in addition to fines, court-ordered restitution, and possible loss of driver licenses and/or vehicles.
It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“Recycling fraud is a serious crime with real consequences for the offenders,” said CalRecycle Acting Director Ken DaRosa. “CalRecycle tackles this problem through an effective collaboration with law enforcement partners who are committed to finding those who would attempt to defraud the state.”
“The CRV recycling program is a publicly-funded program meant to better our environment and benefit our communities,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Individuals who cheat the program cheat their fellow Californians. Losing a valuable service which reduces landfill waste is not an option. At the California Department of Justice, we continue to investigate recycling fraud and hold perpetrators accountable.”