California’s Contractors State License Board caught two unlicensed pool builders in a two-day sting targeting illegal operators in different professions.

Anthony Sanchez of Prestige Pools in Temecula, Calif., and Salvador Merino of JC Plumbing: Your Pool & Spa Specialist in Santa Ana, Calif., were arrested. They were charged with illegal advertising and contracting without a license.

“[Unlicensed contractors] are causing harm to consumers and also to legitimate contractors who are insuring their employees, paying their required taxes and obtaining the necessary building permits,” said David Fogt, CSLB’s chief of investigations.

“We wanted to make a statement ... and obtain as much media exposure as possible. The [publicity] educates consumers and serves as a deterrent for those who would think about committing criminal offenses.”

Sanchez and Merino were released with notices to appear in court. They could face up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

CSLB and SPEC, the California pool industry’s lobbyist, took particular interest in Sanchez, a former employee of Escondido, Calif.-based Mission Pools. Sanchez is suspected of operating without a license and using Mission’s materials to sell his work, according to Fogt.

The CSLB has other pool stings in the works, Fogt said.

During the operation, a man and woman posing as a married couple obtained bids for various types of construction to be done in a home in Lake Elsinore, Calif. The CSLB set up two days’ worth of appointments with contractors suspected of working illegally. Once they offered to perform services worth more than $500, they were arrested. (Contractors in California can perform work valued at less than $500 without a license.) A total of 25 people were caught.

The CSLB has been sweeping the state with stings targeted at various industries. Since July 2006, the operations have resulted in 564 notices to appear in court.

The operation in Lake Elsinore was part of what CSLB called the “California Blitz.” This series of stings took place across the state throughout March, resulting in the arrest of 167 people. Many of the cited contractors work in landscape, roofing, plumbing and heating fields.

The CSLB relies heavily on industry involvement to set up the stings and find targets, Fogt said. To report illegal activity, contact the Northern California Swift Unit in Sacramento at (916) 255-2924, or the Southern California Swift Unit in Norwalk at (562) 345-7600.