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Arturo Ceja III of South Los Angeles was arrested and charged on federal charges for illegally transporting large amounts of explosives that he purchased from another state. The South LA man was arrested on Saturday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and was charged with transporting explosives without a license.
Initially, local authorities responded to the man's South LA home after receiving a tip from a neighbor that fireworks were being illegally stored in Ceja's backyard. LAPD officers would respond and found over 500 boxes of commercial-grade fireworks that were being stored in cardboard boxes. Ceja was not only storing 5,000 pounds of explosives, but he was storing over five times the amount... Ceja had approximately 32,000 pounds of explosives stored at his home.
"The initial investigation by local authorities estimated that approximately 5,000 pounds of fireworks were found; however, today the ATF determined that Ceja was storing approximately 32,000 pounds of fireworks in his backyard,"
said the US Attorney's Office for the Central District of California
Reports state that Ceja made frequent trips to Nevada in late June to purchase multiple kinds of explosives. He purchased aerial displays and large homemade fireworks that contained explosive materials. Ceja would transport these explosives to his home in South LA using rental vans. A large majority of these illegal explosives were purchased from an individual selling out of the trunk of his Honda in a parking lot in Nevada.
While responding to Ceja's home on Thursday, the LAPD Bomb Squad determined many of the explosives were ruled unsafe for transport, Bomb Squad made the decision to detonate many of the explosives on the spot. During the detonation, the total containment vessel exploded causing a huge explosion and injuring a total of 17 people.
According to a complaint note, fireworks in California can be sold for as much as four times what purchasers may pay for the fireworks in Nevada.
The charge for transporting explosives without a license carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. Ceja is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.