LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) — Authorities say they intercepted thousands of pounds of empty beverage containers being smuggled into California to defraud the state’s recycling program.

The state Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery – also known as CalRecycle – said Wednesday that a series of busts this summer seized 56,000 pounds of material worth an estimated $82,853 in potential California Redemption Value, commonly known as CRV.

recycling fraud august 2 California Busts Alleged Recycling Fraud Smugglers

Evidence seized during an Aug. 15, 2018 arrest in Winterhaven, California. (California Dept. of Justice)

Eight people were arrested in the law enforcement actions at Winterhaven and Needles on the California-Arizona state line and in Barstow, where vehicles were found to be carrying loads of empty beverage containers from Nevada.

“CalRecycle works alongside its law enforcement partners in an effort to protect the nickels and dimes Californians pay at the cash register when purchasing CRV–labeled beverages,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said in a press release. “Those attempting to cash in on out-of-state containers and steal CRV funds from California consumers should know we have agents and staff working diligently to disrupt these schemes and protect public funds.”

recycling fraud june 6 2 California Busts Alleged Recycling Fraud Smugglers

Evidence seized after a June 6, 2018 recycling fraud border arrest in Barstow, California. (Calif. Dept. of Justice)

California encourages recycling by requiring consumers to pay deposits of 5 cents to 10 cents on certain beverage containers that can be redeemed at certified recycling centers. Out-of-state containers are not eligible for CRV refunds.

CalRecycle said felony recycling fraud and related crimes carry a potential sentence of six months to three years behind bars in addition to fines, court-ordered restitution, and possible loss of license and/or vehicle.

 

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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