Three suspects were arrested in Long Beach after police found them selling illegal fireworks. Police received an anonymous tip from a resident and dispatched officers to the home. When they arrived, officers found a makeshift storefront created outside of a garage and arrested two males – both known gang members – and a female on suspicion of selling illegal fireworks.
5,000 lbs. of fireworks were seized Monday evening after the arrests and are scheduled to be destroyed.
Law enforcement adheres to a “zero tolerance policy” regarding fireworks. In all unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, as well as some municipalities, all fireworks are illegal. In some places, fireworks of the “safe and sane” variety are allowed. If an individual is caught possessing, storing, selling, or using fireworks, they face a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. However, those who are found to be in possession of large amounts of fireworks (say, 5,000 lbs.) it’s possible to be charged with a California felony instead of a misdemeanor. In that case, the potential penalty includes up to 3 years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.
The danger that fireworks pose is two-fold. The first, and most dangerous, is the fact that they can easily start fires. Southern California is extremely dry this time of year, and it only takes one spark to ignite a wildfire that can quickly get out of control. With the recent rains, higher than normal amounts of brush and grasses grew in this spring – making this fire season particularly dangerous as there is a lot more potential dry fuel for a fire.
The second thing that makes fireworks dangerous is that, if misused, people can suffer severe injuries or disfigurement. Firecrackers have been known to blow off fingers – if not entire hands – when misused.