A man in South Los Angeles was arrested in a home where 32,000 pounds of illegal fireworks were found and has been charged with transporting explosives without a license, but what happened to the explosives was even more incendiary.
As the Los Angeles Police Department attempted to detonate the illicit pyrotechnics in a containment vehicle specially designed to withstand internal detonations, they triggered a massive explosion that injured 17 people, destroyed the LAPD’s truck and caused damage to nearby homes and cars.
Arturo Ceja III was arrested on Saturday by federal agents in connection to the explosives. On Wednesday, police responded to a tip about the cache of fireworks in his backyard, where they found more than 500 cardboard boxes of firework. Initially, they estimated there were about 5,000 pounds of fireworks, but federal agents have since concluded that there were over 32,000 pounds of largely commercial grade fireworks. Authorities also located and seized at least 140 other homemade fireworks and components.
“Ceja did not possess an ATF explosives license or permit of any kind that would authorize him to transport either aerial display fireworks or homemade fireworks made with explosive materials, including but not limited to flash powder,” according to the complaint affidavit written by a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“[T]he fireworks were stored outside and in an unsafe manner, namely under unsecured tents and next to cooking grills,” the complaint asserts. “None of the commercial fireworks or homemade fireworks, which contained explosive materials, were stored in an approved magazine.”
The Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad determined that some of the homemade fireworks were too dangerous to transport through the densely populated area and decided to use a total containment vessel (TCV) to destroy the devices on site. In doing so, they triggered a massive blast felt throughout the neighborhood.
People gathered outside to watch the officers seize the goods and ultimately the blast as the TCV was engulfed in flames. “Fireworks are too dangerous for people to have, they might cause fires!” read one tweet.
The LAPD: “fireworks are too dangerous for people to have, they might cause fires!”
— Libertarian Party of Texas (@LPTexas) July 1, 2021
One video claims to show the destruction inside their home after the blast.
Aftermath of LAPD fireworks explosion pic.twitter.com/MGAxhc09pI
— Tony Montana (@sisterjase) July 3, 2021
Transporting explosives without a license is a federal crime that may land Ceja up to the statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
Although the police-triggered explosion was surely not a crime, residents are using the incident to further their progressive push to defund the police. Some are demanding a 20% reduction to the LAPD budget, saying the “service is failing.”
“The city of Los Angeles was bombed! What is going on?”
Impacted community members of the @LAPDHQ fireworks bombing held a press conference today in front of @LAPDNewton. They are demanding 20% defunding of LAPD in response to the explosion, plus housing & services for victims. pic.twitter.com/El6pQ7BEHD
— Vishal P. Singh (@VPS_Reports) July 3, 2021
Of course the cries to defund the police ignore the massive surge in crime rates, particularly in areas that have actually voted to defund the police such as Portland, Oregon that has seen a massive 800 percent increase in homicides this year.
The incidents remain under investigation.
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