Over $1 million in illegal fireworks seized by Mesa police the week before Fourth of July

Jul 4, 2024, 7:15 AM

PHOENIX — Mesa police officers confiscated over $1 million in illegal fireworks in two separate seizures on June 27, the Mesa Police Department announced Tuesday.

In one of the incidents, police pulled over the driver of a truck for making a wide right turn. As they approached the vehicle, illegal fireworks were identified in the bed of said truck.

Police identified the suspect as 18-year-old Wilbur Rabago, who admitted to police his intentions to sell the fireworks for $1,000. Rabago was booked into jail on two misdemeanors.

Later on the same day, officers contacted a suspect whom they believed to be selling illegal aerial fireworks. Once a search warrant was obtained, they investigated a storage facility where they located nine 40-feet storage containers, housing more than 2,000 boxes of illegal fireworks.

In total, the fireworks were stacked on 95 pallets and required a semitruck to make four trips to move, with an estimated total surpassing $1 million.

Officers were able to identify the firework business’ operator, and charges are incoming following a complete investigation, Mesa PD said.

Mesa PD began a dedicated Fireworks Enforcement Operation on June 24 that resulted in these seizures, and it will have a dedicated team of officers working the holiday. Public Information Officer Brandi Meyers told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday this team will not respond to any 911 calls that don’t involve fireworks.

There’s also a new online portal for Mesa residents to report illegal firework use anonymously by providing any information or pinpointing locations along with any available pictures and video. It will be monitored 24/7 through July 6.

Meyers added any fireworks that launch into the air and explode are most likely considered illegal in Arizona.

Residents can also call Mesa PD’s nonemergency line at 480-644-2211, email or call 911 for emergencies.

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Over $1 million in illegal fireworks seized by Mesa police the week before Fourth of July