The San Joaquin County Sheriff Department’s illegal fireworks task force confiscated almost ten thousand pounds of illegal fireworks during its six-week long operation, triple the size of last year’s nearly three thousand pound haul.

From this year’s haul of those nearly ten thousand pounds of fireworks, there were 17 arrests, 16 referrals to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office, 540 destructive devices, nine guns and some drugs were taken in as well.

San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow speaks at the department’s illegal fireworks task force press conference while District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar looks on. (ROBYN JONES /CONTRIBUTOR)

At a press conference attended by SJ County Sheriff Patrick Withrow and District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar Wednesday, only one-third of what the task force confiscated was displayed outside the building. Still, the display was so big it had to be held outside of the San Joaquin Sheriff’s office, according to department sources.

Although the task force’s take was substantial during this year’s holiday weekend, Stockton sounded like a warzone of fireworks.

“We live here. We were there on 4th of July or the third of July and heard what was going on and it was bad this year, very bad even after us taking ten thousand pounds off the street clearly that just barely scratches the surface of what’s out there.“ said Patrick Withrow.

The question now is what would it take to get more of these illegal fireworks off the street if the task force is only ‘scratching the surface’, Sheriff Withrow is calling on the community to help.

About a third of the nearly 10,000 pounds of illegal fireworks seized by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s task force was on display at the press conference. (ROBYN JONES/CONTRIBUTOR)

 “We really need the public’s help,” he said. “We are asking for your help next year please if you see something online. Llet us know if someone is dealing fireworks, before somebody else gets hurt or killed or before someone else’s house is burnt down or somebody else’s field is lit on fire. We need your help we can’t do this on our own and people have to understand there’s a huge profit margin in it for these people and they don’t care if they burn down your house, they don’t care if they injure you or your children. So we need your help each year fighting, because people are willing to put you in harm’s way to make a profit.”

The illegal fireworks task force has been active in this form for about three years, according to public information officer Nick Goucher. 

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