California DOJ arrests 8 truck drivers in CRV container smuggling sting

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The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has announced the arrest of eight truck drivers on charges of felony recycling fraud, conspiracy and attempted grand theft. Agents with the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Recycle Fraud Team made the arrests during a three-day sting operation near the Arizona border with California’s San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The suspects are accused of smuggling nearly 59,000 pounds of empty beverage containers from Arizona into California, attempting to defraud the California Redemption Value (CRV) Fund of more than $87,000.

“Importing out-of-state empty beverage containers for CRV redemption is a crime,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline says. “To prevent this type of fraud, drivers transporting empty bottles and cans into California are required to pass through one of CDFA’s (Department of Food and Agriculture’s) 16 border inspection stations—and CalRecycle is working alongside our law enforcement partners to make sure that happens.”

In coordination with CalRecycle and the CDFA, California DOJ agents conducted the operation from Jan. 23 through Jan. 25, 2018, at CDFA border protection stations in Vidal and Blythe, California.

Under California law, drivers transporting empty beverage containers generated out of state must declare the material by submitting an Imported Materials Report at one of 16 CDFA border inspection stations. If vehicle operators fail to stop at a station, willfully avoid a CDFA border inspection station, refuse to allow inspection of loads containing empty beverage containers or knowingly submit false information they violate the law.

As a result of the California DOJ operations, the eight drivers were arrested and booked at the Riverside County Jail.

In addition to financial consequences, convictions for recycling fraud and related crimes can carry sentences ranging from six months to three years behind bars.