12:09 GMT30 July 2021
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    At least 17 people were injured in South Los Angeles, California, last week after a bomb squad with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) failed to properly dispose of homemade fireworks seized from an area resident. Law enforcement officials claim they followed protocol, but have yet to determine why their armored containment vehicle exploded.

    South Los Angeles resident Arturo Ceja III is set to appear in court on Tuesday, shortly after he was arrested by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and federally charged for the illegal transportation of fireworks and "dangerous homemade devices." 

    Feds claim Ceja, 26, made multiple trips to Nevada late last month to purchase "various types of explosives," such as fireworks and "aerial displays."

    The bulk of the LA man's transactions took place at Area 51 Fireworks - a vendor in Pahrump, Nevada. 

    According to court documents, Nevada fireworks fetch four times their cost in the California market.

    "Ceja did not possess an ATF explosives license or permit of any kind that would authorize him to transport either aerial display fireworks or homemade fireworks made with explosive materials, including but not limited to flash powder," the ATF complaint detailed, claiming the makeshift fireworks were being unsafely stored by a grill in his backyard. 

    After receiving a tip, authorities descended on the Ceja's LA home last Wednesday and discovered what was estimated to be some 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms) of explosives. However, ATF agents investigating the matter later claimed around 32,000 pounds of allegedly trafficked fireworks and explosives were stored at his home. 

    As authorities seized the fireworks and explosives from the 26-year-old's residence, members of the LAPD bomb squad determined that some of the items were unsafe to transport, and should be detonated at the scene to manage risks. Ceja's 10-year-old brother was home when LAPD officers arrived, according to court documents. 

    Though the team brought a total containment vessel (TCV) to assist with on-scene detonation, the vessel ultimately exploded, as seen by viral footage. 

    The blast, which covered a wide radius, damaged homes, cars and injured at least 17 individuals, including law enforcement officers. Michael Hoffman, a special agent with the ATF, revealed on Friday that a 500-pound explosive container was recovered three to four blocks away - in "somebody's yard." 

    The 26-year-old is now in federal custody and faces up to 10 years behind bars for charges related to child endangerment and possession of a destructive device. 

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    Tags:
    Los Angeles, LAPD, Los Angeles Police Department, police, fireworks, trafficking
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