Monterey County

Nearly 2,000 pounds of illegal fireworks seized in undercover sting

Police say man was selling them on Facebook

SALINAS, Calif. - Salinas Police say a tip from a concerned citizen led them to one massive bust.

Officers were led to 33-yaer-old Daniel Escatel Alcocer by a report that he posted photos of nearly 1,800 pounds of illegal fireworks on his Facebook page.  He allegedly listed them as being for sale out of the Towt Street home he lived in.

An undercover officer arranged a deal to purchase them.  He showed up to find the fireworks, valued at around $20,000 on the street, stashed in an illegal shed behind the house.  Fire crews say that poses another big threat.

"Maybe the electrical is not done up to code or maybe its not structurally sound." said Battalion Chief Brett Loomus with Salinas Fire.  "So if you have a fire that starts in that structure, now you have all those fireworks that are detonating.  Had that occurred in this structure, there would have been multiple homes in that neighborhood damaged or destroyed."

Police say that selling the illegal fireworks on Facebook is a crime in itself.  Alcocer now faces those charges along with several other misdemeanors and a felony count of selling illegal fireworks.

The sting was carried out by a Department of Justice task force comprised of Salinas Police, Monterey County Sheriff's Deputies and CHP officers.  They say they're aware of several other suspects.

Salinas Police and fire say they patrol for illegal fireworks for the two weeks before and after the July 4th holiday.  Anyone caught with illegal fireworks can face steep fines and can be arrested.

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