A Los Angeles County task force on theft of industrial plastics scored another major bust and is close to identifying one or more end users of stolen reprocessed material.
Tracking may lead to disclosure, and possible prosecution, of plastics processors illegally buying gaylord bags of the regrind, said police Sgt. Nabeel Mitry, supervisor of the task force.
“We have the information; we need confirmation,” Mitry said.
Sheriff's deputies served a search warrant at recycler So.Cal Plastics in Anaheim, Calif., and recovered intact stolen trademarked plastic products valued at $252,290, products in granulated form worth $200,000 and processing equipment and machinery.
Deputies arrested So.Cal Plastics owner Hector Palacios, 31, of Tustin, and employees Jose Torres, 27, of Santa Ana; Candido Aviles, 31, of Anaheim; Juan Aldana, 32, of Santa Ana; and Julio Solano, 29, of Garden Grove, all in Southern California. The charges were theft and possession of stolen products. Investigators continue to pursue leads.
City of Industry, which is funding the plastics industrial task force, is evaluating whether to continue financially backing its operations. The task force is based at a city sheriff's station. The City of Industry City Council allocated $1.5 million for a one-year trial program scheduled to end Aug. 31.
The June 30 seizures at So.Cal pushed the value of the task force's recoveries of stolen plastics to nearly $6 million over 10 months since the five-member investigative team began operations.
Typically, the task force recovers intact or granulated plastic pallets, trays, shelves, baskets, milk crates or collapsible totes that have been stolen — usually from loading docks behind groceries, pizza shops, bakeries, restaurants, beverage companies or shipping-receiving stores. Mitry said sometimes employees of legitimate businesses steal the plastics and leave them in a place for accomplices to pick up.
Mitry said many of those receiving back their rightful property express appreciation for the task force's efforts.
“We find their plastics, and they say they support our team,” he said.
In addition to the So.Cal Plastics action in June, the sheriff's force conducted 40 compliance checks under the business and professions code. Intact stolen plastic products worth $191,712 were recovered and returned to various victimized companies.
During May, the task force conducted 24 business compliance checks and recovered — and returned to owners — intact stolen trademarked plastic products with a value estimated at $100,300.