SACRAMENTO — California authorities have arrested five people who allegedly bought bottles and cans from recycling centers in Nevada and then redeemed them for cash in California, the California Department of Justice said Thursday.
The suspects were charged with conspiracy, grand theft and recycling fraud as part of the scheme valued at more than $300,000, officials said.
The five arrested — Gerardo Gomez-Vasquez, Magdalena Hernandez-Sebastian, Luis Aguirre-Alacon, Ludin Rosales-Valladares and Elfego Gonzalez-Ramos — are Nevada residents. Authorities say a sixth man, Argelio Hernandez-Torres, remains at large.
Authorities say the group purchased large amounts of used aluminum and plastic beverage containers from Nevada recycling centers and took them to mini-storage units, where they were sorted, crushed and re-bagged. Group members then made multiple trips with 26-foot box trucks to California, where they redeemed the containers for cash at recycling centers in Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley.
Agents seized about 10,000 pounds of aluminum and plastic beverage containers during the arrests.
California charges a fee on the sale of soft drinks and beer to encourage recycling and reduce littering. The money goes into a state fund unless consumers redeem their beverage containers to get the fee back. Nevada does not charge such a fee.
The state estimates that redemption of out-of-state containers costs California up to $50 million annually.