Men smuggle $20,000 in empty bottles for California refund, officials say.

California’s high rate of return on beverage containers landed two men in jail for trying to smuggle in $20,000 worth of empty bottles.

Officials found more than 14,500 pounds of beverage containers stuffed into two different tractor trailers from Arizona as part of a five-day sting operation near Blythe, California, CalRecycle said in a news release.

Balmore Alvarado was found driving a truck March 14 with 7,020 pounds of used beverage containers worth about $10,275, officials said. 

On March 16, Anthony Sanchez was found with a truck filled with 7,675 pounds of drink containers with a value of $9,636, officials said.

The California Refund Value program pays 5 and 10 cents depending on the size of each empty container. The program offers cash for aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles.

Alvarado and Sanchez were arrested and charged with felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, filing a false or forged document, and conspiracy, officials said.