A Kane County Sheriff’s Office undercover investigation has led to the shutdown of illegal fireworks sales sites in Aurora and Elgin, multiple charges against two men and the confiscation of large-scale explosives.
According to a Kane County Sheriff’s Office news release, the sheriff’s Hazardous Device and Materials Team and sheriff’s detectives began a two-week-long investigation into suspects selling commercial grade fireworks after “a dramatic increase in public complaints of large-scale explosive devices being launched across the county” as the Fourth of July weekend neared.
An undercover detective began buying illegal fireworks from one individual who had advertised the sale on social media. The seller was arrested after several small purchases, which led investigators to two people, one in Aurora and one in Elgin, who sheriff’s officials said “established make-shift store fronts of large scale explosives and illegal fireworks” in their homes.
After an undercover detective made additional purchases from these people, search warrants were executed at both homes.
Samuel Calderon, 25, of the 1000 block of Fifth Street, Aurora, was arrested at his home, where investigators recovered various 1.3 explosive / commercial-grade fireworks, 1.4 consumer-grade fireworks, illegal explosives devices and materials used to function the devices and fireworks.
Calderon was charged with one count of Possession of Explosive and Incendiary Devices (a Class 1 felony), three counts of Possession of Bombs or Grenades (a Class 3 felony), three counts of Transferring Explosive Material without a License (a Class 3 felony), and one count of Endangering the Safety of a Child (a Class A misdemeanor).
Angel Lopez, 19, of the 400 block of St Charles Street, Elgin, was arrested at his home, where a search yielded the discovery of 1.3 explosive commercial-grade fireworks, 1.4 consumer grade-fireworks, illegal explosive devices commonly referred to as “quarter sticks” or “M250s,” items used in manufacturing explosive devices including flash devices, and materials used to function the devices and fireworks.
Lopez was charged with three counts of Possession of Explosive and Incendiary Devices (a Class 1 felony), five counts of Possession of Bombs or Grenades (a Class 3 felony), and four counts of Transferring Explosive Material without a License (a Class 3 felony).
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said the Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the FBI and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Explosives Division.
“I want to stress that the items seized from these suspects are not fireworks,” Hain said. “They are dangerous explosive devices that should not be in the hands unlicensed and untrained people.”
Hain credited the work of the Hazardous Device and Materials Team, one of only nine bomb squads in the state, and investigators who worked swiftly to take these devices off the street.
Hain said Bomb Squad investigators and technicians will be on patrol on the Fourth of July to assist deputies and local municipal police with large-scale explosive investigations and recovery.