California Cops Seize 75 Tons Of Illegal Fireworks In State’s Biggest Raid

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Illegal fireworks
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California fire authorities and local police seized an insane 75 tons of illegal fireworks in Gardena over the weekend.

Cops score big raiding cache of illegal fireworks

They called the raid one of the largest illegal fireworks seizures in the state’s history.

On Tuesday, officials said they seized dangerous fireworks up to eight inches in diameter, over 2,000 illegal destructive devices, and 10 pounds of bulk homemade explosives.

Cal Fire officials noted that the stash they found during the operation was worth between $7 million and $10 million.

Wilmington resident Alejandro Rodriguez, 44, Carson native Natalie Navarro, 30, and Daniel Gudino, 25, also from Wilmington, were arrested for an array of weapons charges, including possession of explosives.

Police said that it’s up to Los Angeles County prosecutors to figure what additional charges the suspects will face.

The State Fire Marshal Arson and Bomb Unit helped Gardena police in confiscate “the extraordinary amount of illegal fireworks.”

A press release from Gardena police described the raid as “the largest single seizure in recent California history,” beating a 2021 record when 32 tons of fireworks were found in South Los Angeles.

Officials from various law enforcement agencies were seen carrying boxes of fireworks and stacking them on dollies by a trailer on Saturday.

It’s unclear how police plan to dispose of the fireworks, but they better do it carefully.

LA owes big after cops botch detonation of illegal fireworks

Los Angeles is already on the hook pay over $21 million to settle claims from a neighborhood where police mishandled a detonation of illegal fireworks three years ago.

That incident injured 17 people and displaced dozens in what was described as a working-class neighborhood.

In 2021, police found an estimated 32,000 pounds of illegal commercial and homemade fireworks at a residential home.

The LAPD bomb squad jammed nearly 40 pounds of volatile, homemade fireworks into a containment vessel rated for seven pounds fewer explosives.

Instead of a contained detonation, the vessel exploded, damaging nearby homes, businesses, and vehicles.

Ten law enforcement officers and seven residents were injured in the blast, displacing around 80 people.

The damage was more than $1 million, and the city has since spent additional millions on repairs and relief for the neighborhood.

Federal investigators found that bomb squad technicians underestimated the weight of the explosives and ignored warnings to break them into smaller loads.

The City Council recently approved the settlement payments, awaiting Mayor Karen Bass’s rubber-stamp.

Council member Curren Price, an area representative, said he regretted the slow process of coming to a deal.

“The victims of the 27th Street fireworks explosion have endured unimaginable pain and trauma that will last a lifetime,” he remarked.

“Reaching these financial settlements were a crucial step toward their healing, rebuilding their lives, and finding stability and peace.”

The 17 claimants are entitled to settlements between $100,000 to $2.8 million.

Arturo Ceja III, 27, was sentenced to five months in federal prison after pleading guilty to transporting explosives without a license.

SoCal cops on high alert over surge in illegal fireworks during holiday

Southern California law enforcement faces a significant challenge on the Fourth of July due to a surge in firework-related crimes.

Lt. Thoby Archer from the Huntington Beach Police Department told the Orange County Register, “It’s an all hands on deck day for us. We’re stretched thin like every coastal city is.”

Law enforcement and fire agencies are slammed with a sharp spike in calls on July Fourth each year due to illegal fireworks activity, injuries, and fires.

In Huntington Beach, dispatchers received over 700 fireworks-related calls last year, up by 250 from 2022.

Archer mentioned they’ll try to combat the calls with increased patrols in neighborhoods with previous illegal fireworks problems.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes reported a 200% increase in 911 calls on July Fourth, especially around sundown when fireworks start. Fines for illegal fireworks can range from $1,000 to $50,000 in some cities.

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