A Garden Grove laminating firm and two toxic waste haulers have been indicted for smuggling hazardous materials across the border and dumping them in Mexico in the first such federal prosecution, authorities announced today.
The indictments were the result of a law enforcement crackdown on the disposal of toxic waste by businesses in California that have been clandestinely shipping them to Mexico in the wake of stricter U.S. environmental regulations and the high cost of lawful toxic disposal.
In announcing the indictments in Los Angeles, U.S. Atty. Robert Brosio said that an inter-agency task force on environmental crimes has been formed to combat the apparently rampant practice of across-the-border dumping.
In a nine-count indictment, toxic haulers Ramond Franco and David Torres are accused of taking 16 drums of hazardous waste from an Orange County firm and dumping them on property owned by Torres in Tijuana in October, 1988.
Laminating Co. of America, based in Garden Grove, was charged with 47 criminal counts in a separate indictment.
A federal grand jury returned both indictments late Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Atty. Adam Schiff said.
Brosio said the indictments mark the first federal prosecution for across-the-border toxic waste dumping. Stiffer penalties can be imposed for such crimes under federal law rather than under California statutes, prosecutors said.