Truckers arrested at Calif. border for trying to smuggle in thousands of dollars worth of recycling


For the second time since February, California officials have arrested a trucker at the state border on charges of recycling fraud.

Driver Ricardo Rodriguez of Colton was arrested for alleged recycling fraud and attempted grand theft charges after surveillance by California’s Department of Justice Recycling Fraud Team. On May 12, they were watching an Arizona recycling center when they spotted bags of empty containers being loaded onto Rodriguez’s semi-truck, which bore the name of a California transport company.

When Rodriguez arrived at the Blythe border agricultural checkpoint, he told an inspector that his truck was empty. But inspectors found he was hauling the aluminum and plastic containers the team had observed being loaded in Arizona, which would have netted more than $15,000 in illegal refunds. Rodriguez’s arraignment is set for July 14 in Indio, Calif.

California incentivizes recycling through a fee paid by state consumers at the time of purchase and refunded when the empty containers are returned. Since the fee is not paid by out-of-state consumers, out-of-state containers are not eligible for redemption.

California inspectors also apprehended another trucker, Martin Madrid of Fontana, when he attempted to enter the Yermo agricultural checkpoint Feb. 15. Madrid told officials his truck was empty, but it contained empty containers from Nevada that would have garnered $13,586 dollars in refunds. He was scheduled to be arraigned April 23 on recycling fraud charges.

Since February, state officials have received significant restitution from two additional cases involving settlement agreements over illegal claims for refunds on out-of-state recyclables.

In April, California announced $1.74 million settlement with a San Leandro-recycling business. In February, it received $1.8 million in restitution refunds in case involving a rental truck hauling empty containers from Arizona, which were divided into smaller loads in California before attempting to redeem them.

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