Guillermo Chavez Goes from Illegal Cans to 4 Months in the Can

An Anaheim man has been sentenced to four months in jail and ordered to pay $225,000 in restitution for bringing thousands of aluminum cans into Southern California from out of state as part of a recycling-fraud operation, state officials announced Monday.

Guillermo Chavez, 62, was popped as part of a five-month California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) investigation that also snared 59-year-old Francisco Flores of Los Angeles.

The probe showed that the pair operated “multi-state recycling fraud rings” from two public storage
facilities in South Gate, CalRecycle’s Lance Klug told City News Service.

Investigators from the California Department of Justice’s Recycling Fraud Team monitored used beverage containers from Phoenix, Arizona, being hauled to Nova Storage and South Gate Public Self Storage and then on to local recycling centers, where the booty was redeemed for California Redemption Value, Klug said. 

Search warrants were served May 4 at Nova Storage, where Flores was arrested, and South Gate Public Self Storage, where Chavez was taken into custody. State agents had determined both were leaders of individual “smuggling rings” that “hired others to unload and redeem out-of-state material,” Klug said.

From 18 storage units at the two locations agents seized 35,479 pounds of aluminum used beverage containers worth an estimated $70,958 in potential CRV and 9,125 pounds of plastic used beverage containers worth an estimated $11,406 in potential CRV, Klug said.

Chavez earned his sentence after pleading guilty to grand theft. Flores copped to felony recycling fraud and was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution.

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