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4 Accused of Sending Toxic Waste From U.S. to Mexico

April 23, 1986|JANNY SCOTT | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Two American businessmen, a retired U.S. Army major and an associate in Mexico have been indicted on charges that they arranged for toxic wastes from firms in Los Angeles and San Diego to be dumped illegally near a Mexican border town.

The federal indictment unsealed Tuesday in San Diego is believed to be the first involving waste dumping across an international border. It alleges that the defendants conspired to defraud their U.S. customers and officials in California and Mexico. They did this, the indictment alleges, by bribing Mexican officials, falsifying export and import documents and lying to U.S. generators of hazardous wastes.

The case stems from the discovery in January of an illegal dump near the Mexican town of Tecate east of Tijuana. The dump constituted the first evidence to support a growing suspicion that tightening U.S. laws on waste disposal might squeeze U.S. wastes into Mexico.

According to the 41-count indictment, Darrel A. Duisen of Chula Vista, George W. Shearer of Bonita, and retired U.S. Army Maj. Glenn D. Faulks of Oceanside in 1985 formed a company called U.S. Technology & Disposal Services and solicited California firms with promises that they would properly dispose of toxic wastes.

At the same time, Duisen and Rogelio A. Marin-Orosco, a Mexican-American living in Tijuana, formed a Mexican company called Tratamientos Petroquimicos Mexicanos and contracted with U.S. Technology in National City to provide a dump for the wastes, the indictment states.

More than 100,000 gallons of liquid wastes and other solids were dumped illegally in a field southeast of Tecate between October and January, prosecutors say. The indictment alleges that the defendants falsified import and export documents to represent the wastes as solvents and raw materials.

Law enforcement officials said the four men made at least $45,000 in three months before Mexican and U.S. officials halted the shipments. The officials declined to identify U.S. Technology's clients, saying the firms genuinely believed the operation was legitimate.

The dump, which the indictment said contains asbestos, paint residues, contaminated soils and other wastes defined as hazardous under California law, has since been shut by Mexican officials. They have also closed a nearby well for fear of drinking-water contamination.

3 Plead Innocent

On Tuesday, Duisen, 55; Faulks, 62, and Marin-Orosco, 27, pleaded innocent in U.S. District Court in San Diego to the charges--41 counts each of conspiracy, mail fraud and utilization of false documents. Shearer, 53, was arrested Tuesday and awaits arraignment. Although the indictment alleges that the men made bribes to Mexican officials to further their conspiracy, the defendants were not charged with bribery.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Federal, state and county officials have suspected for more than a year that tightening environmental laws and the consequent closing of hazardous-waste facilities in Southern California may be encouraging financially strapped industries to look for cheap disposal options across the Mexican border.

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