Attorney General Becerra and CalRecycle Acting Director DaRosa Announce Multiple Arrests in Recycling Fraud Scheme

Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and CalRecycle Acting Director Ken DaRosa today announced the arrest and filing of charges against nine individuals for allegedly defrauding California’s beverage container recycling program by smuggling semi-truck loads of ineligible out-of-state containers into multiple Southern California recycling centers for redemption. The defendants are Raymundo Montoya, Sergio Hernandez, Ignacio Razo, Marvin Ren Amira Chali, Tomas Dominguez, Irving Dominguez Flores, Michael Dominguez, Job Robles-Pelaez, and Zayda Garcia Mejia.  

“The CRV recycling program is a publicly-funded program meant to better our environment and benefit our communities,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Individuals who cheat the program cheat their fellow Californians. Losing a valuable service which reduces landfill waste is not an option. At the California Department of Justice, we continue to investigate recycling fraud and hold perpetrators accountable.” 

“Recycling fraud is a serious crime with real consequences for the offenders,” said CalRecycle Acting Director DaRosa. “CalRecycle tackles this problem through an effective collaboration with law enforcement partners who are committed to finding those who would attempt to defraud the state.”

The California Redemption Value (CRV) program, our state’s beverage container recycling program administered by CalRecycle, incentivizes recycling at privately-owned centers with a 5- or 10-cent return on eligible beverage containers. California consumers subsidize the CRV program every time they purchase CRV-eligible bottles and cans in the state. Only material from California is eligible for redemption under this program. Arizona does not have a recycling program that provides redemption value for bottles and cans. The illegal redemption of out-of-state beverage containers drains California’s CRV fund. Recycling centers are responsible for ensuring that only eligible bottles and cans sold in California are redeemed.  

During the months-long investigation, the defendants allegedly brought truckloads of nonredeemable material from Arizona to storage facilities and recycling centers in Southern California in order to redeem the material for money and defraud California’s CRV fund. Drivers deliberately took a long, circuitous route in order to avoid inspection by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The nine defendants have been charged with recycling fraud, conspiracy, and grand theft. Additionally, the truck drivers involved may face suspension of their commercial driver’s license and impounding of their tractor trailer.  

This investigation is Attorney General Becerra’s latest effort to combat recycling fraud in California. In January, Attorney General Becerra announced the arrest of 11 individuals for allegedly defrauding California’s beverage container recycling program of more than $2 million by importing ineligible beverage containers sold in Arizona and Nevada for CRV in California. Previously, he announced the arrest of three individuals in a $16.1 million recycling fraud bust in Arizona. He also announced the arrest of eight individuals for attempting to defraud the program of nearly $83,000 in the illegal redemption of out-of-state containers. In addition, Attorney General Becerra filed criminal charges against five individuals in an $80.3 million recycling fraud scheme.

It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

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