Eleven Arrested in Summer Recycling Fraud Stings
Agents shut down two Reno-to-Sacramento smuggling pipelines
Media Contact: Lance Klug
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Justice has released the findings from two recycling fraud investigations resulting in 11 arrests in the summer of 2016. Each case involved the collection, illegal transport, and fraudulent redemption of out-of-state used beverage containers through the California Redemption Value program.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“One by one, CalRecycle and its enforcement partners are targeting and dismantling these recycling fraud organizations,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “CalRecycle will not tolerate these smuggling operations to defraud the CRV program of deposits that rightfully belong to California consumers.”
Wife, Husband, and Family Arrested for Recycling Fraud
Who: Rocio Zamora, 45, Rio Linda; Santiago Zamora, 53, Rio Linda; Margarita Medrano, 36, Rio Linda; Idelfonso Salas, 36, Rio Linda; Ulises Adame, 28, Rio Linda
What: Arrested on charges of conspiracy, grand theft, and felony recycling fraud
When: Aug. 18, 2016 (investigation launched in December 2015)
On Dec. 15, 2015, agents with CDOJ’s Recycling Fraud Team were conducting an investigation at a recycling center in Reno, Nev., when they observed Rocio and Santiago Zamora loading used beverage containers into a rental truck. Agents followed the truck into California on a route designed to avoid a required stop at the California Department of Food and Agriculture border checkpoint in Truckee. Agents continued their surveillance to the couple’s residence on 32nd Avenue in Rio Linda and then to a nearby storage facility. The couple was later seen redeeming the plastic and aluminum at recycling centers in Rio Linda and Sacramento.
Subsequent surveillance operations revealed similar activity and additional storage lockers in Yuba City and Rio Linda. Agents also observed frequent redemptions at nearby recycling centers in the area. The investigation led to the identification of three additional family members, believed to be conspiring to defraud the California Redemption Value program by illegally importing and redeeming out-of-state used beverage containers.
On Aug. 18, 2016, CDOJ agents served search warrants at the Zamoras’ residence and Yuba City Self Storage on Steward Road. Agents arrested five suspects and seized an assault rifle, two handguns, and a semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle. The Zamoras’ storage locker was found to contain 1,520 pounds of aluminum and 840 pounds of plastic used beverage containers with a potential California Redemption Value of $3,386.
Tip Brings Down Recycling Fraud Scheme
Who: Marco Rodriguez-Montano, 38, Carson City, Nev.; Jose Martinez-Lozano, 49, Fernley, Nev.; Francisco Limon, 61, Reno, Nev.; Juan Valdez, 40, Reno, Nev.; Herlindo Samayoa, 46, Sacramento; Erendida Ramirez, 58, Sacramento.
What: Arrested on charges of Conspiracy, Grand Theft and Felony Recycling Fraud
When: June 1 and 2, 2016 (Investigation launched in May 2015)
On May 29, 2015, agents with CDOJ’s Recycling Fraud Team launched an investigation after receiving a tip regarding used beverage containers from Nevada recycling centers being transported into California without legally required documentation. Information led agents to facilities in Reno and Fernley, Nev., where they identified Marco Rodriguez-Montano as a primary suspect. Herlindo Samayoa and four other people were identified as co-conspirators in a scheme to defraud the California Redemption Value Fund.
During the course of the investigation, agents observed multiple loads of used beverage containers being loaded into rented moving trucks in Reno, Nev. The suspects took the material across state lines using routes designed to avoid required stops at the CDFA border checkpoint in Truckee. The used beverage containers were taken to a storage facility on Weyand Drive in Sacramento before winding up at a nearby recycling center.
On June 1, 2016, CDOJ agents served search warrants at two locations in Sacramento —8585 Weyand Drive and 4226 Barbara St.—and one in Carson City, Nev., at 3250 Banjo Circle. Juan Valdez, Francisco Limon, and Herlindo Samayoa were arrested at the Weyand location, while Marco Rodriguez-Montano was arrested in Carson City. Agents seized 3,580 pounds of aluminum and 2,340 pounds of plastic used beverage containers from the truck and the Weyand storage facility. The material had a potential California Redemption Value of $8,452.
The following day, agents served a search warrant at the Tepeyac Market on West Main Street in Fernley, Nev., and arrested Jose Martinez-Lozano. A sixth suspect, Erendida Ramirez, was arrested on Sept. 19, 2016.
California’s Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act incentivizes recycling through a California Redemption Value (CRV) fee paid by California consumers at the time of purchase and refunded upon return of the empty beverage containers to CalRecycle-certified recycling centers. Because the fee is not paid on beverages purchased outside the state, those containers are not eligible for CRV redemption.
The California Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of CalRecycle, which has administrative authority over the state’s beverage container recycling program. In addition to CalRecycle’s interagency agreements with CDOJ and CDFA, CalRecycle aggressively combats fraud and illicit payments through enhanced precertification training of recycling center owners; probationary reviews of recycling centers; oversight of certified processors; monitoring and tracking of imported materials; risk assessment of daily claims for reimbursement; daily load limits; application of prepayment controls; and post-payment reviews and investigations.