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Two arrested for smuggling 3,950 pounds of fireworks

Bust part of month-long crackdown netting 13,000 pounds of contraband

YERMO • A man and teen were arrested for trying to smuggle 3,950 pounds of illegal fireworks through the Yermo Agricultural Inspection Station in a U-Haul box van, San Bernardino County Fire officials said Monday.

The bust was part of a month-long, multi-agency crackdown on illegal fireworks that netted more than 13,000 pounds of fireworks across the High Desert, Cal Fire said in a release.

“One thing is for certain,” State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover said in a statement, “the fireworks that have been confiscated will not start a disastrous wildfire, set a home on fire or send a young child to the emergency room.”

Franco Colin, 24, of Los Angeles, and a 16-year-old teen from Bell were traveling southbound along Interstate 15 on June 10 when investigators in Yermo discovered the fireworks.

Both suspects were booked for felony possession of dangerous fireworks without a permit. Colin was taken to a county detention facility. The teen boy was taken to juvenile hall and later released to his parents.

If convicted, the two are subject to imprisonment for up to one year, fines of up to $5,000 or both, according to a county fire news release. Records show Colin is due in court in August.

Operations were also conducted at the California Agricultural checkpoints in Needles, Shoshone and the Death Valley area starting June 1.

Authorities arrested a total of five people on felony charges, made another 46 misdemeanor arrests and issued numerous citations for vehicle code violations. The operation also led to the execution of a search warrant in Los Angeles where a large amount of illegal fireworks were believed to be stored.

All confiscated fireworks are taken to the Sheriff’s Arson/Bomb Range, where they are turned over to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for disposition.

Under California law, all fireworks that explode, shoot into the air or move along the ground are considered dangerous and are illegal to possess without a permit. That includes firecrackers, skyrockets, roman candles, mortars and “chasers” that dart along the ground, and “safe and sane” fireworks that have been modified.

In the event a fire occurs due to the unsafe use of fireworks, officials said individuals may be criminally charged and responsible for restitution.

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