A South Los Angeles Man pleaded guilty on August 30 last summer in U.S. District Court to one count of transportation of explosives without a license, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Central District of California. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years, but WPMT Fox 43 reported on February 26 that a review of online court records did not indicate a sentencing date.
Court records state that the 26-year-old man made several trips to Nevada in June, where he purchased a large quantity of commercial fireworks—mostly from Area 51, a fireworks dealer in Pahrump, Nevada. He also purchased homemade explosive devices from someone selling them out of a vehicle. He smuggled the ordinance back to California in rental vans.
Such explosives are illegal in California, where they sell at four times the Nevada purchase price. A tip led Los Angeles Police to the offender's backyard, where they found 16 tons of fireworks and explosives.
Bomb Tech's Warning Ignored
An investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives reported that LAPD decided the large quantity of illegal explosive devices was too dangerous to transport out of the crowded neighborhood. Therefore, a total containment vessel (TCV)—designed to completely absorb an explosion—was brought to the location.
As LAPD Bomb Squad technicians were loading the volatile material, one of the technicians, an 18-year veteran, twice warned his colleagues that the TCV was overloaded. His objections were ignored, according to the 51-page ATF document.
The TCV blew up, injuring 27 civilians and police. Dozens of homes, 40 vehicles, and 13 businesses were damaged; 75 residents were displaced, according to The Mercury News quoting a report from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation.
Sometimes, when the evidence is overwhelming, a plea deal is a defendant's best option. An experienced criminal defense attorney can often negotiate a lesser sentence if the defendant cooperates with investigators and prosecutors. If you have been charged with a federal crime, call the Sigal Law Group at 818-325-0570 for a free consultation.