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California Man Sentenced to Prison for Illegally Transporting Hazardous Materials

On April 9, Ernesto Alvarez, Jr., was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Los Angeles, California, to a prison term of 1 year and 1 day for transporting hazardous materials—specifically consumer-grade fireworks—without proper placarding. The court also sentenced Alvarez to 36 months of supervised release after he completes his term of incarceration and a $100 special assessment fee.

DOT-OIG joined this investigation in May 2016, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Emergency Response Unit and the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Arson Investigation Unit requested assistance with their investigation after an estimated 200,000 pounds of illegal fireworks were identified during a search warrant executed in South Gate, California. Large quantities of fireworks were located inside a warehouse, in four semitrailers, and in a single rental moving truck. In addition to the commercial fireworks, remnants of fireworks manufacturing materials were present in the warehouse, including explosive flash powder. All of the fireworks in the rental truck belonged to Alvarez and were transported to California from Nevada. Alvarez was later arrested for possession of a destructive device and indicted in December 2016. In November 2017, he pleaded guilty to the hazardous materials transportation charge.

DOT-OIG is working on this investigation with State and Federal prosecutors. Alvarez is the first defendant convicted and sentenced for violating Federal statutes in this case.