Authorities seized 38,000 pounds of illegal fireworks being stored in a warehouse in the South Los Angeles area and arrested two men at the scene, police said Thursday.
The fireworks were discovered about 3 p.m. Wednesday in the building in the 900 block of East 61st Street, near the intersection of Gage and Central avenues in the Florence community, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
“Los Angeles Fire Department Fire Marshals were conducting routine compliance inspections of commercial buildings,” an LAPD statement said. “While conducting an inspection of a textiles warehouse, the marshals observed a large number of fireworks in a storage room and contacted the Los Angeles Police Department.”
“Bomb Squad and Major Crimes Division investigators responded to the location and seized the illegal fireworks, which were described as commercial grade,” police said. “Bomb Squad investigators immediately began the process of packaging and removing the fireworks from the area, which totaled 38,000 pounds in weight.”
Detectives interviewed several occupants in the building, and arrested Lorenzo Ponce, 64, and Diego Ponce, 35, both of Los Angeles. Their relationship to one another was not immediately known, police said. The men were booked on suspicion of “possession of illegal fireworks over 5,000 pounds,” police said.
By Thursday morning, the fireworks had been removed from the warehouse, the LAPD reported. CalFire will assist with the eventual disposal of the items, police said. The investigation was ongoing.
Two years ago in a south Los Angeles neighborhood, a botched detonation of illegal fireworks while being removed by the LAPD resulted in an explosion that injured several people and damaged buildings and vehicles.
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call LAPD Major Crimes Division Detective Allen at 213-486-7220, or the police tipline at 877-LAPD-247. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS or use the website www.lacrimestoppers.org.