The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) helped the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and CalRecycle in its first recycling fraud crackdown across state lines.
On November 7, the Arizona DPS arrested three individuals accused of defrauding California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program. The agency identified the suspects as Miguel Bustillos, Anthony Sanchez, and Amaury Avila-Medina.
The Arizona DPS made the arrest after California DOJ agents coordinated the serving of three search warrants on known locations in Phoenix, Arizona. Agents seized 27,860 pounds of empty beverage containers that were packed and loaded onto California-bound trucks. The total CRV value of the seized beverage containers is more than $41,800.
The three suspects are facing felony charges including recycling fraud, conspiracy, and attempted grand theft.
Agents conducted a five-investigation before the arrests. Agents believe that Bustillos used his trucking company as front. His primary purpose is to smuggle out-of-state beverage containers to defraud the California Redemption Value Fund.
Based on evidence, agents believe the suspects were responsible for defrauding approximately $16.1 million from the CRV fund over the past three years.
California is committed to protecting the integrity of its recycling program
In a statement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “California’s recycling program is one of many publicly-funded programs used to incentivize better treatment of our environment and communities. Those who choose to undercut these efforts to protect and improve our community will be apprehended.”
“My office will continue to work with law enforcement agencies across state lines to detect and stop criminal activity, and hold perpetrators accountable,” he added.
On the other hand, CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline, commented, “The cross-border partnership between the California Department of Justice and Arizona’s law enforcement community sends a clear signal that organized criminal groups have no safe space to operate recycling fraud schemes.”
Additionally, Smithline said, “CalRecycle and its law enforcement partners will continue to follow these investigations wherever they lead to protect public funds and the integrity of California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program.”