California recycling-fraud sting nets $20K in used containers, 2 arrests

Authorities arrested two people in separate incidents for allegedly bringing more than 14,000 pounds of used beverage containers - worth about $20,000 - into California to illegally claim redemption fees.

Containers bought outside of California are not eligible for the redemption payment because the original purchaser did not pay the California Redemption Value fee. The fee is designed to be imposed on purchase and refunded upon redemption.

State officials launched a fraud sting in March to catch people bringing empty bottles and cans into California.

They say on March 14, state agents at a border checkpoint stopped a Chino man driving a truck as he entered the state from Arizona.

They inspected his trailer and found more than 7,000 pounds of used beverage containers. If redeemed in California, they would have a value of more than $10,000. Officials said the driver, identified as Balmore Alvarado, 49, of Chino, was also carrying fraudulent papers about his truckload.

On March 16, state officials stopped a semi-truck and discovered it was filled with 7,675 pounds of used containers with a potential refund value of $9,636. They say the driver also carried a fraudulent Bill of Lading and did not have a required Imported Material Report.

The driver was identified as Anthony Sanchez, 56, of Tucson. Officials say he was attempting to drive the containers from Parker, Arizona to Blythe, California.

Officials say both suspects face charges of felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, filing a false or forged document, and conspiracy. If convicted, they could face between six months to three years in prison as well as financial penalties.

The fraud sting involved the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, the California Department of Justice and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
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