APD along with local and state partners start to enforce new law
By Officer Tasia Martinez
Six recycling centers were shut down over the past two days following a multi-jurisdictional investigation led by the Albuquerque Police Department.
The businesses that were shut down included: El Rey Metal, 7501 San Pedro NE, Omar’s Recycling, 2930 Second NE and Bellita’s Recycling, 517 Coors NE, Wise Recyclers, 227 Old Coors SW, South Valley Metals, 1540 Bridge Blvd SW, and J & R Recycling, 237 Old Coors SW.
The closures come after new law regulating recycling centers was enacted on July 1 that required centers to register with the state and banned them from buying certain metals. After the law was enacted, Chief Raymond D. Schultz immediately sent out a letter to all recycling centers in Albuquerque alerting them to the new law and warning them that APD will take measures to enforce compliance if they didn’t. The letter told businesses that APD would be conducting random compliance checks within the next couple of months.
“These businesses knew we were coming,” Albuquerque Police Commander William Roseman said. “This law gives us the tools we need to curb the ongoing theft of precious metals. We were able to do this because of our partners within the city and state.”
On Tuesday members of APD’s Pawn Shop Detail, the Albuquerque Safe City Strike Force and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture started conducting random inspections. So far, every inspection resulted in a closure.
Detectives and inspectors reported that there were several violations found at each business. The owner of El Rey Metal told inspectors that she did not have a business license and admitted that she was not reporting to the State as required.
In addition to regulation violations, detectives recovered stolen property from Omar’s Recycling to include 32 pounds of telephone wire, 12 oxygen bottles belonging to a local healthcare company, a City of Albuquerque traffic sign and 12 PNM high-wire travelers .
Employees at Bellita’s were using bathroom scales instead of the required industrial scales for weight measurement. Owners told detectives that they only bought aluminum cans, but investigators found a bucket filled with copper wire in their purchased stock. APD detectives also found two dogs on the property - one tied to a chain another one locked in a wire cage. Both pets appeared to be living in poor conditions. Albuquerque Animal Control officers responded to the scene and conducted their own investigation. Two other recycling centers also had animal control violations involving the care of five animals. Citations were issued.
At J & R Recycling, inspectors noticed that power meter had been tampered with, billing the business for less power consumption than what was actually being used. PNM’s Fraud section is currently investigating the meter.
Pawn Shop detectives say not only were all six businesses failing to meet state regulations, but four of the six businesses were using illegal or damaged scales which they say cheats customers.
The investigation into these six businesses is ongoing and other recycling centers can expect these random inspections to occur at any time.
Roseman said more inspections are forthcoming and eventually every center in Bernalillo County will be inspected.