A law enforcement sting in Riverside County uncovered thousands of pounds of used bottles and cans being smuggled into California where they were expected to be cashed in for close to $20,000 in state recycle fees.
Officers pulled over tractor trailers for four days last month on Highway 95.
The fraud sting was targeting those drivers who were trying to evade the California Department of Food and Agriculture checkpoint on Interstate 10, four miles east of Blythe.
When officers pulled over two trucks they found out why. There were bags containing 14,695 pounds of used beverage containers being shipped to California where they would be recycled for a fee from the California Redemption Value Fund.
The first big rig held 7,020 pounds of used beverage containers, with a $10,275.85 refund value.
Two days later, a big rig was found with 7,675 pounds of recyclable cans and bottles worth $9,636.79 in refund.
Each truck driver was arrested and charged with felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, filing a false or forged document, and conspiracy. If convicted, each will face a sentence of six months to three years.
“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,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said in a written news release.