Visalia Police, District Attorney seize 540 pounds of illegal fireworks before holiday

Visalia Police Department seizes hundreds of pounds of illegal fireworks and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office seizes 540 pounds in the weeks leading up to Fourth of July

VISALIA – Fourth of July celebrations are done with, but not everyone got the chance to light their fuse. Law enforcement managed to seize hundreds of pounds of illegal fireworks well before Sunday’s show of patriotism.

Last Wednesday, June 30 the Visalia Police Department announced that throughout the month of June, property crimes detectives worked with the Visalia Fire Department and conducted undercover operations purchasing illegal fireworks from several individuals. These operations resulted in the seizure of hundreds of pounds of illegal fireworks.

Edgar Picazo, 25, from Visalia, Jason Quirartemo, 26, from Tulare, Jacob Stronach, 23, from Visalia, and Kevin Gomez, 34, from Orosi, were all contacted during these investigations for selling illegal fireworks to detectives. They were cited by the Visalia Fire Department and each face up to a $4,000 fine.

Operations targeting the sales of illegal fireworks have been on-going. Throughout the Fourth of July weekend, Visalia Police and Fire Departments utilized focused enforcement patrols targeting the use of illegal fireworks. Violators and property owners where illegal fireworks are being used could face fines starting at $2,000 and increasing for each additional violation, up to $4,000.

On Thursday, July 1, the Tulare County District Attorney’s office announced that in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, investigators from the TCDA Bureau of Investigations and Tulare County Fire Department removed 540 pounds of illegal fireworks off the streets. During a series of joint operations targeting sales, investigators worked to intercept dangerous “Illegal” fireworks that have been brought into the county in preparation for July 4th celebrations. Investigators made two arrests and cited two others for sales and possession.

“Illegal fireworks being set off for weeks leading up to the 4th of July impact the quality of life for our residents, particularly children and pets,” said TCDA chief investigator Lindy Gligorijevic. “This is reckless, dangerous, and foolish behavior with absolute no regard for the safety of their neighbors and we are happy that we made a dent in this illegal activity.”

The Tulare County Fire Department had already responded to multiple reports of fires that were found to be started by illegal fireworks. Last year, TCFD responded to 33 fires confirmed to be related to illegal or careless use of fireworks, with many more suspected of being started by fireworks.

“We continue to see an increase in fires due to both illegal and safe and sane fireworks,” Tulare County fire chief Charlie Norman said. He added that dry conditions from the drought and stray sparks from fireworks will likely give his crews a lot to put out in the coming weeks.

Visalia Police Logs

Tuesday, June 29

At approximately 1:54 p.m., officers in the special enforcement unit contacted suspect Jorge Santana, 33, in the parking lot of Circle 7 Liquor Store. During the investigation, Santana was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm that had the serial number removed. Santana was taken into custody and later booked into the Tulare County pretrial facility for felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammo, and the unlawful removal of a serial number from a firearm.

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