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Texas Man Sentenced for Not Reporting Hazardous Waste Importation Scheme

Release Date: 06/26/2004
Contact Information:

Suzanne Ackerman 202-564-7819 /

(06/26/04) Victor Manuel Arroyo Balderas, warehouse coordinator for Encon Environmental Services, El Paso, Texas; was sentenced on Feb. 12 to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay a $1,500 fine for intentionally not telling authorities about a criminal scheme involving the importation of hazardous waste into the United States in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The scheme began in 1995 and involved the illegal importation of hazardous wastes, including mercury-contaminated soil, into the United States from Mexico. The wastes were illegally stored at several Encon facilities in El Paso. Failing to properly dispose of mercury-contaminated wastes can lead to human contact with mercury which, depending on the amount and variances in individual rates of absorption, can cause severe neurological damage and, in some cases, death. The case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division’s Dallas Area Office, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in El Paso.