Two Southern California men have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with two fraudulent recycling rings that were operated out of South Gate, Calif., self-storage facilities. Recyclable items were smuggled from out of state and stored in units at Nova Storage and South Gate Public Self Storage, and then used beverge containers (UBCs) were taken to local recycling centers and illegally redeemed for California Redemption Value, according to the source.
A recycling-fraud team from the California Department of Justice launched the investigation last December after receiving a tip from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). During the investigation, agents witnessed UBCs being delivered from Phoenix to the storage facilities before being cashed in, the source reported.
Search warrants were issued for both storage facilities on May 4. During search and seizure operations, agents again witnessed UBCs being delivered at each location.
Four people were detained at Nova Storage, where a truck driver told agents he had picked up the material in Albuquerque, N.M. Investigators subsequently arrested Francisco Flores, 59, after determining he led the recycling ring, according to the source.
Eight people were detained at South Gate Public Storage, where a truck driver told investigators he was delivering material from Phoenix. Four of those detained were being paid by Flores. Agents arrested Guillermo Chavez, 62, after determining he led a second smuggling ring and hired others to unload and redeem out-of-state UBCs.
During the raids, investigators seized 44,625 pounds of UBCs worth an estimated $82,400 in redemption value.
Chavez pleaded guilty to grand theft and was sentenced to four months in jail and ordered to pay $225,000 in restitution to CalRecycle. Flores pleaded guilty to felony recycling fraud and was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution.
- Recycling Today: Guilty Pleas Entered in California UBC Fraud Case