Authorities Seize 14,000 Pounds of Illegal Fireworks in San Joaquin County

STOCKTON -- A San Joaquin County illegal fireworks task force seized 14,000 pounds of illegal fireworks Thursday night.

They arrested 40-year-old Steven Clark.

Clark linked to an ad for illegal fireworks found on Craigslist and was arrested after undercover investigators posed as buyers.

The task force says they had been investigating Clark for about four years and had been conducting a number of undercover buys.

Officials from across San Joaquin County gathered in front of a pile of roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars stacked at least six feet high on Friday.

"Of all the large busts we’ve done with fireworks, this one has so much meaning because it’s the largest we’ve ever seen in our county," Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said. "I don’t think people take seriously enough these illegal fireworks and what they can do. They can level homes, they can take out a lot of people. They’re fatal."

The San Joaquin District Attorney's Office said the stash was housed in a residential neighborhood near a preschool, which would bring additional charges against Clark.

"Depending on how it is stored or how it is ignited, it could potentially be a pretty large explosion. It would have been devastating had it gone off where it was stored," Sergeant Gregg Beall, of the Manteca Police Department's bomb squad, told reporters.

The stash was estimated to be worth around $100,000. Most of the fireworks came from Washington, officials said.

Clark's bail is set at $2.2 million dollars.