Mayor Robert Garcia speaks during a news conference announcing the latest seizure of illegal fireworks by authorities at the Long Beach Fire Department's headquarters. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
More than 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks were confiscated and three people were arrested Monday night after an anonymous tip led authorities to a makeshift storefront set up in a garage at a North Long Beach home.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon that displayed some of the confiscated fireworks outside the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) headquarters, Police Chief Robert Luna told media outlets that police encountered the fireworks when they served a search warrant at about 8:00PM at a residence in the 1800 block of East 57th Street.
Officers confiscated over 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks—a street value of about $30,000—in a makeshift storefront set up in the garage where they were being sold to community members, Luna said.
In addition, cash and PCP was also seized during the investigation and four minors—ages 5, 8, 10 and 17—were found in the home and turned over to the Department of Children & Family Services.
Due to the large amount of high-powered fireworks at the scene, the LBFD responded to take control of them, officials said.
Photo of Monday night's seizure of over 5,000 pounds worth illegal fireworks courtesy of LBPD.
In addition, three individuals were arrested and booked into Long Beach City Jail, including Darius Bo, 24, and Sreypeur Say, 29, both of Long Beach, who were booked for possessing dangerous fireworks and held with a bail of $20,000. Armand Moore, 36, of Los Angeles, was booked for possessing PCP for sale and held with a bail of $30,000.
Luna said that both male suspects (Bo and Moore) were also discovered to be documented gang members, a connection investigators often times discover when suspects are arrested for fireworks violations.
“The community needs to understand that when they purchase fireworks from unauthorized sources such as this, they are essentially putting money into the pockets of street gangs and supporting their illicit activities,” Luna said.
This latest investigation is one of multiple that have taken place throughout the city in recent weeks during which $45,000 in U.S. currency, two loaded handguns, ammunition, and significant quantities of what is believed to be marijuana, cocaine, heroin and PCP were also seized, officials stated.
While enforcement of illegal fireworks is very challenging for law enforcement, as violations cannot be enforced if they are not witnessed by an officer, police officials said they have implemented new enforcement strategies and tactics that shift their focus from users to the suppliers.
In addition, as part of a multi-departmental collaboration, the city has doubled its campaign educating the public about the use of illegal fireworks, including bringing awareness to the harm fireworks bring to both veterans and pets.
“We’ll continue to do our part as public safety agencies, and it's not just Police and Fire, it's Public Works, libraries, it's all our City departments working together to make this a safe city," said Fire Chief Richard Brandt.
Last year, a 17-year-old boy lost part of his hand during a fireworks accident. Brandt said that in that case, authorities had issued a $1,000 fine to the boy’s grandma about an hour before the incident.
“You can see the amount of damage that this amount of fireworks can cause,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “We know this is problematic for our firefighters and our community and for the quality of life for our residents.”
If anyone is aware of someone selling fireworks, or see someone using them, they are urged to call Police Communications at (562) 435-6711 or 9-1-1. Those wishing to report anonymously can submit tips through “LA Crime Stoppers” by calling 1 (800) 222-TIPS (8477).