Trucking Company Busted For Collecting $16.1 Million In Fraudulent ‘Recycling’ Payouts

Los Angeles, California – California officials say they’ve exposed an illegal trucking and smuggling ring hauling empty cans and bottles into the state from Arizona to cash in on taxpayer-subsidized recycling refunds.

According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, three suspects were arrested Monday for allegedly receiving fraudulent payouts totaling more than $16.1 million over three years.

The owner of Bustillos’ Trucking, Miguel Bustillos, 49, of Glendale, Arizona, was arrested along with truck driver Anthony Sanchez, 57, of Tucson, by Arizona Department of Public Safety officers on Nov. 7. The following day, the suspected broker, Amaury Avila-Medina, 56, from the Sylmar section  of Los Angeles, was arrested.


Along with the arrests, authorities seized about 27,860 pounds of empty beverage containers from a Phoenix, Arizona, collection yard that they say was bound for California. The containers had an estimated redemption value of $41,836. Authorities said the Bustillos’ Trucking  existed entirely to smuggle cans and bottles into California.

The arrests are part of an ongoing battle to weed out fraud in California’s recycling program which offers a 5- or 10-cent bounty to recycle bottles and cans. Non-California citizens, living in states without similar programs, have been attempting to scam the California program.

In fact, just this year alone 27 people have been arrested on charges related to smuggling recyclables, department spokesman Lance Klug said. It’s the most since 2011 when 32 suspected smugglers were arrested.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra weighed in on this saying, “California’s recycling program is one of many publically-funded programs used to incentivize better treatment of our environment and communities. Those who choose to undercut these efforts…will be apprehended.”


Earlier this year, the department announced eight truck drivers were arrested on charges of felony recycling fraud, conspiracy and attempted grand theft. That operation took place on the Arizona-California border involving trucks that allegedly tried to dodge inspection stations en route to a recycling center.

Featured image courtesy of California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery



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