“It’s a problem for us every year … beginning June through the holiday,” Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told The Epoch Times. “The city sells legal fireworks which you can use; it’s the illegal fireworks that are the problem.”
Bertagna said police have already made several busts leading up to Independence Day.
During a June 11 probation check on a documented gang member’s residence, SAPD confiscated illegal fireworks, drugs, U.S. currency, and three handguns—including a .45 caliber ghost gun. Earlier that day, police confiscated 2,673 mortars, 1,144 large skyrockets, and 1,750 miscellaneous aerial illegal fireworks. The bust led to six citations and a $1,000 fine.
On June 9, SAPD confiscated approximately 16,000 firecrackers, 874 mortars, and 760 miscellaneous aerial illegal fireworks.
And on June 8, detectives searched an active gang member’s apartment with a warrant for suspicion of firearms, recovering 320 pieces of illegal fireworks. Also confiscated were four AR rifles, one 9 mm semi-auto pistol, drugs, weapons manufacturing tools, several extended magazines, and U.S. currency.
Bertagna said many illegal fireworks make their way in from Arizona and Nevada.
“They bring them in, and sell them to make money,” Bertagna said.
The danger is when people misuse the illegal fireworks, since they pose a greater hazard if used improperly.
“Every year we have multiple injuries, and we get fires, and they use them to shoot at the police,” Bertagna said. “We’ve had multiple people lose fingers, hands, eye injuries, burns—we get a lot of injuries.”
Legal fireworks booths will appear in Santa Ana about a week leading up to the holiday.
There will be extra SAPD units, working closely with the Orange County Fire Authority during the July 4 long weekend.
“We want people to have a safe and sane Fourth of July,” Bertagna said. “Our goal is that people don’t get hurt, and that we don’t have fires started.”
SAPD has a tip line this year, and is asking residents to report the use of illegal fireworks to (714) 245-8771 or via email to email@example.com