Taskforce Illegal Fireworks publishes report on enforcement | News, Sports, Jobs

Taskforce Illegal Fireworks publishes report on enforcement | News, Sports, Jobs

Taskforce Illegal Fireworks publishes report on enforcement | News, Sports, Jobs

The Maui News

KAHULUI–The Department of Law Enforcement’s (DLE) Statewide Illegal Fireworks Task Force (Task Force) reports the results of recent enforcement actions.

From January to late June, Task Force officers seized approximately 1,000 pounds of illegal fireworks from various sources in the community. On Tuesday, July 2, 2024, Task Force officers seized approximately 200 pounds of illegal fireworks from a home in Waipahu. Several illegal aerial fireworks were seized and the investigation is ongoing.

On Wednesday, July 3, 2024, DLE launched SaferWatch, a web and mobile security system that allows the public to anonymously report illegal fireworks in the community. During the Independence Day holiday, 59 tips on illegal fireworks were submitted to DLE using the new app. The information from these tips will be analyzed and the Task Force will take action based on actionable information.

Also during Independence Day, the Task Force conducted a sting operation in the Waipahu area, resulting in six people being issued with citations for illegal fireworks. These citations are for offences punishable by up to one year in prison and fines. Task Force officers monitored the area and caught the suspects in the act of setting off the illegal fireworks. As a result of the surveillance operation, numerous homemade multi-launch mortar tubes capable of launching large air-grenades were seized. In addition, several illegal air-grenades of classification 1.4 and 1.3 were also found in their tubes, ready to be fired. The 1.3 fireworks are considered “lighting fireworks” and should only be used by licensed professionals in the fireworks industry who have specialized training and years of experience. They are very dangerous and are never intended for home use by the public.

Finally, the Task Force also reports the first felony prosecutions in cases that occurred in December 2023. In separate investigations, Wolfgang Clark, 21, of Waipahu, and Daniel Young, 51, of Kapolei, were arrested and released pending investigation in December 2023 for selling illegal fireworks to an undercover officer. Clark was subsequently arrested on June 12, 2024, and Young was arrested on June 14, 2024, on a warrant charging them with violating the state’s fireworks law. These violations are Class C felonies in Hawaii, punishable by up to five years in prison and fines. The Attorney General’s Office is handling the prosecution of these two cases. Both Clark and Young are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“I would like to thank the public for their continued support of the task force by reporting illegal fireworks users and those distributing illegal fireworks,” said DLE Director Jordan Lowe. “I also want to thank our law enforcement partners for their assistance and continued work to address the problem of illegal fireworks in Hawaii.”

The DLE is the coordinating agency for the Illegal Fireworks Task Force, which is comprised of state narcotics agents; sheriff’s deputies; county police officers; the Department of the Attorney General; and federal agencies including Homeland Security Investigations; the United States Postal Investigation Service; United States Customs and Border Protection; the United States Coast Guard Investigation Service; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

More information about SaferWatch can be found at www.saferwatchapp.com and is available for free in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Additional crime categories currently visible on the app are in development and will be available soon.

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