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Monday, June 20, 2011

Smuggling Illegal Fireworks can Lead to Serious Jail Time

As the Fourth of July approaches, plans are being made not for celebrations, but on how illegal or misguided entrepreneurs can make a fast profit by smuggling illegal fireworks into California. Many of these illegal fireworks are purchased in neighboring Nevada where they are legal. The problem begins when the fireworks cross into California. Already, the California Highway Patrol has confiscated thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks on the way to California communities.

Many people do not understand how few fireworks need to be in your possession to constitute a felony. Any amount that exceeds 100 pounds gross weight (that includes packaging) can be prosecuted as a felony. The penalty for conviction can be up to one year in state prison or county jail and fines of $5,000 to $10,000. Less than one hundred pounds of illegal fireworks can bring a misdemeanor conviction with up to a year in jail and $1,000 to $5,000 in fines. Something as simple as a mortar and eight re-load shells constitutes one pound new weight pyrotechnic composition. Even a simple out-of-state purchase for personal use brought into California would be subject to penalties of jail time and large fines.

CAL FIRE in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies will continue their efforts to reduce the smuggling of illegal fireworks into California. They will also seek the strongest penalties provided by the law for those who are caught and convicted. "These types of fireworks are dangerous and destructive and have no place in California" said CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Fire Prevention Chief Bart Chambers. "If you must use fireworks, use only State Fire Marshal Approved Safe and Sane fireworks in areas approved for their use" said Chief Chambers.

For more information regarding fireworks log on to the State Fire Marshal's web site at