June 26, 2019
South Carolina Company Sentenced for Smuggling Fireworks
On June 26, 2019, Phoenix Imports Inc. was convicted in U.S. District Court, Florence, South Carolina, and sentenced to a $150,000 fine, up to $10,000 in restitution, and $400 in court fees. In January 2019, Phoenix Imports, Rock Hill, South Carolina, and its president, Eric Stajos, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to smuggle hazardous materials—specifically, unapproved fireworks—into the United States.
As the investigation revealed, between January 2015 and June 2015, Phoenix Imports repeatedly imported unapproved fireworks into the country through the Garden City Terminal, Port of Savannah, Georgia, with the intent to sell them to the public. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors found that many of the shipments contained illegal fireworks that were not listed on the shipping manifest, as required. Furthermore, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) did not approve the fireworks for shipment.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with CBP’s and PHMSA’s assistance.