In a crackdown initiative in the weeks leading up to July 4, the city Police Department (NYPD) announced Saturday it has seized $54,000 worth of illegal fireworks and made 22 fireworks-related arrests across the five boroughs.
In three separate Intelligence Bureau operations — carried out in June and early July by the NYPD in conjunction with the city Sherriff’s Office, the FDNY Fire Marshall and the NYC Fireworks Task Force — investigators made 22 fireworks-related arrests and seized six illegal firearms, said the NYPD.
Nearly half of those arrested live in Brooklyn and five of them have a record of at least 10 prior arrests — including two individuals with 42 and 33 prior arrests, respectively, according to a statement from the NYPD.
On June 8, the NYPD arrested two Brooklyn men on Staten Island at the corner of Richmond Avenue and Signs Road, recovering approximately $1,300 worth of illegal fireworks.
The men, 28-year old John Delvalle and 35-year-old Jack Valencio, were arrested after officers saw them loading the fireworks into a van and were both charged with unlawful sale of fireworks.
“The NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau has been an integral part of a Task Force working with the Sheriff and Fire Marshals to develop information on major suppliers, interdict illegal fireworks as they come into New York City from out of state distributors, target locations where they are stored before sale — creating a hazard of fire and explosion — and the sellers who peddle illegal fireworks that result in multiple serious injuries to adults and too often children, every summer in New York City,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “These arrests and seizures to date demonstrate our focused, unrelenting commitment to that mission.”
The NYPD said the seizures came in three distinct operations:
—Operation Roman Candle — NYPD investigators developed information on individuals believed to be trafficking large amounts of illegal fireworks in New York City. To date, Operation “Roman Candle” has resulted in 15 fireworks-related arrests, and the confiscation of roughly $22,000 worth of illegal fireworks.
—Cyber Intelligence Unit Controlled Buy — After conducting an investigation into sales of illegal fireworks via Craigslist, NYPD officers identified and arrested an individual at a location in Brooklyn’s 94th Precinct, charging the individual with violating PL 270.00 for Unlawful Sale of Fireworks over $500. Subsequent to the arrest, officers also uncovered and confiscated roughly $15,000 worth of fireworks.
—Field Intelligence Team Operations — On five separate occasions, Field Intelligence Teams at the precinct level used the tenets of the NYPD’s Neighborhood Policing philosophy to develop information. These community-based leads led to their executing search warrants that resulted in six fireworks-related arrests and seizures, and the confiscation of $7,800 worth of fireworks. In addition, six illegal firearms were confiscated, along with other contraband.
All the people apprehended as part of the initiative were males, the majority of whom were in their 20s and 30s, said police. In terms of criminal records, the arrestees ranged from first time offenders to individuals with significant prior arrests, according to the NYPD.
While their criminal offenses varied, many previously had been arrested for violent felony offenses including eleven for weapons possession, said police. During Operation “Roman Candle,” eight of the individuals stopped had been arrested previously for assault, including one individual who had been convicted of assaulting a police officer and another arrested for attempted murder, said police.
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