Did you ever see that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman fill a mail truck full of empty cans and bottles and drive it to Michigan to take advantage of the state's 10-cent deposit return? That's small potatoes to this smuggling scheme uncovered in California.

According to CalRecycle, police have arrested and charged two drivers after a sting operation found tractor trailers carrying (literal) tons of recyclable containers allegedly being smuggled into the state to take advantage to the California Redemption Value. Law enforcement says officers pulled the trucks over after they attempted to evade a Department of Food and Agriculture checkpoint on Interstate 10, and found bags containing 14,695 pounds of cans and bottles.

Had the containers been redeemed, the perpetrators stood to make nearly $20,000 from the refund value. Instead, the drivers have been charged with felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, filing a false or forged document, and conspiracy, which could mean up to three years in prison, if convicted.

Apparently, this is a common problem, as smugglers move recyclables from Arizona to California to take advantage of the redemption value, and efforts to combat it are ongoing. "CalRecycle's fraud prevention reforms and substantial network of enforcement partners make it increasingly risky for those attempting to defraud California's Redemption Value Program," says CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline. "The department will continue to use all available resources to make sure CRV deposits go back to California consumers and not in the pockets of criminal enterprises."

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