California's state recycling program is recouping more than $1m (€0.9m) from a fraudulent scheme that smuggled in out-of-state beverage containers for deposit redemption.
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery said “multi-state recycling fraud rings” operated out of hubs at two public storage facilities in South Gate, California.
Illegally imported beverage containers, including plastic bottles, were discovered after authorities were tipped off in December.
The scam involved bringing in containers from out-of-state, where no deposit was required, and redeeming them for California's redemption value of 5 cents per container holding less than 24 ounces and 10 cents per container holding more.
Francisco Flores, 59, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to felony recycling fraud. Guillermo Chavez, 62, of Anaheim, pleaded guilty to grand theft. Flores was sentenced to a year in jail and ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution. Chaves was sentenced to four months in jail and order to pay $225,000 in restitution, CalRecycle said.