Los Angeles officials announced Thursday that they had confiscated slightly more than one ton of illegal fireworks as part of a regional crackdown before Fourth of July celebrations.
The amount of seized fireworks rose as authorities worked in conjunction with the Los Angeles Fire Department, police at the Port of Los Angeles and the Bureau of Street Services to inspect shipments and Los Angeles businesses where fireworks might be discreetly sold.
On June 27, City Atty. Mike Feuer announced that criminal cases were filed against three people for storing or selling about 1,000 pounds of fireworks. The announcement Thursday included charges filed against seven more people after more fireworks were confiscated, bringing the overall total a little more than 2,000 pounds.
Many of the fireworks are illegal and not considered "safe and sane," but even items that are legal in other cities can pose a safety hazard, authorities said.
"Illegal fireworks pose a significant fire danger and a serious safety risk, especially to kids," Feuer said in a statement.
Those caught up in the latest arrests face a total of nearly 40 charges and penalties that include thousands of dollars in fines and the potential for six months to a year in jail, according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office.
Authorities charged Ester Chin, 61; Eileen Soo Hoo, 79; Pik Fan Lam, 54; Jose Guadalupe Avalos, 25; Juan-Jose Alvarado, 31; Moises Benitez-De La Cruz, 30; and Javier Gonzales Ortiz, 25.
Los Angeles Police Det. Paul Robi of the city's bomb squad, which is responsible for the disposal of illegal fireworks, highlighted the risk of improperly storing fireworks when announcing the crackdown June, recalling exploding garages and, in one case, a house that was nearly leveled in a fireworks explosion.
"If one goes, they are all going to go," he said. "It's a tremendous hazard."
Despite the dangers, the financial incentives sustain an illegal market for fireworks, especially around the Fourth of July.
Dealers in illegal fireworks can buy them in neighboring states and sell them in California for "three or five times what they paid for them," Robi said.
Times staff writer Matt Hansen contributed to this report.