SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Six people are behind bars after an investigation into hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent recycling that happened across state lines.
The California Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement announced in a release Wednesday that their investigators worked with CalRecycle in a roughly four-month-long investigation.
As part of the investigation, agents searched several Southern California recycling facilities and seized more than $300,000 in cash from the recycling processor, West Coast Waste Industries S.A., Inc. and CalRecyle revoked the certification from the company’s owner, Antonio Iezza Jr.
Iezza Jr. and his associates are accused of smuggling truckloads of empty beverage containers from Las Vegas casinos to fraudulently redeem them at a Southern California recycling center for thousands of dollars through the state’s bottle and can deposit program.
Officials said Laszlo Castro Lencse, Antonio Iezza, Jr., Jaime Mosaquites Diaz, Eligio Ortega Dominguez, Geovany Ortega Narcisco, and Gonzalo Cachu Lucatero were arrested and charged with conspiracy, grand theft and recycling fraud.
Investigators are still searching for Ivan Dominguez Lopez, a seventh suspect in the case.
“California does not tolerate attempts to defraud the Beverage Container Recycling Program of deposits that rightfully belong to California consumers,” said CalRecycle Director Rachel Machi Wagoner said in the release.
In California, people are encouraged to recycle through a California Redemption Value fee, known as CRV, that is paid by Californians when the beverage is bought and refunded when the empty container is returned to a recycling center certified by CalRecycle.
Since people buying beverages out of state do not pay CRV deposits, empty beverage containers brought across state lines are not eligible for CRV redemption, according to officials.
“CalRecycle will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners within the California Department of Justice to protect money that belongs to Californians,” Wagoner said.
Californians are encouraged to report suspected recycling fraud or bottle redemption violations to CalRecycle’s toll-free number 1-800-RECYCLE or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.