LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The 26-year-old man arrested by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents in connection to the 32,000 pounds of illegal fireworks allegedly found in his home that led to the botched South Los Angeles detonation is set to appear in federal court Tuesday.
Arturo Ceja was initially arrested on state charges after the June 30 explosion, but over the weekend, ATF agents took him into custody on federal charges. Ceja faces a criminal complaint charging him with transporting explosives without a license.
The federal complaint alleged that Ceja took several trips to Nevada where he purchased the firework and transported them back to L.A. in rental vans.
On June 30, after receiving a tip that fireworks were being stored in Ceja’s backyard, LAPD officers responded to his residence on East 27th Street. At the house, officers allegedly found more than 500 boxes of commercial grade fireworks in large cardboard boxes. LAPD officials said Ceja’s 10-year-old brother was also at the home at the time of the fireworks discovery.
While trying to remove the fireworks from Ceja’s home, the LAPD Bomb Squad discovered that some of the fireworks contained explosive material. They determined that the explosive material was too dangerous to transport and placed about 10 pounds of it in a specialized vehicle known as a total containment device. When they attempted to detonate the material, the massive explosion occurred.
Some 17 people were injured and many residents in the blast zone suffered property damage so severe that they have been unable to return to their homes.
Ceja was initially arrested and booked on the day of the explosion on state criminal charges of possession of a destructive device and child endangerment, and was released after posting $500,000 bond on July 1. Two days later, however, he was taken into federal custody pending Tuesday’s initial appearance before a federal judge in downtown L.A.
If convicted as charged, Ceja faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)