Agents target common Arizona-to-California beverage container smuggling route

A multiagency recycling fraud sting has resulted in two arrests, the discovery of fraudulent documents and the recovery of 14,695 pounds of used beverage containers from Arizona that allegedly had been imported in an attempt to defraud the California Redemption Value (CRV) Fund.

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) joined the California Department of Justice (CDOJ) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to conduct the five-day operation from March 13-17, 2017.

“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,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline says. “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.”

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, CalRecycle says.

On March 14, 2017, CDFA agents at the 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. A subsequent inspection of Alvarado’s trailer revealed 7,020 pounds of used beverage containers with a potential CRV refund value of $10,275, CalRecycle reports.

On March 16, 2017, CDOJ Recycling Fraud Team agents conducted surveillance on a semitruck, which CalRecycle reports was found to be importing used beverage containers from Parker, Arizona, into Blythe, California, via Agnes Wilson Road. CDOJ agents contacted Anthony Sanchez, 56, of Tucson, Arizona, and discovered his trailer filled with 7,675 pounds of used beverage containers with a potential CRV refund value of $9,636. Sanchez also presented a fraudulent bill of lading and did not have an Imported Material Report, required for anyone who transports used beverage containers into California.

Both drivers face charges of felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, filing a false or forged document and conspiracy.