Thousands of dollars worth of fireworks brought into Massachusetts illegally were seized over the weekend in targeted busts, state police said Monday.
The thousands of smuggled firecrackers, sparklers, Roman candles and more that were seized Friday, Saturday and Sunday were worth more than $28,000, Massachusetts State Police said. Each day, troopers from the agency's Division of Investigative Services and Firearms and Explosives Investigation Unit stopped drivers who had bought fireworks out of state and brought them into the state.
Eighteen people received summons after being stopped, according to police. Images they shared showed scores of boxes of fireworks -- all of which will be destroyed.
It wasn't immediately clear what states the fireworks were brought in from.
The busts came ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend, which people often mark by launching their own fireworks. Illegal fireworks have caused more than 900 fires and left at least 31 people severely burned between 2012 and 2021, police said.
Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason was asked about the busts Tuesday, and said he was proud about the team — whose work he said he didn't fully understand when he took on the job.
"I didn't fully appreciate what those interdiction efforts were doing and what impact they had," Mason said.
In nearby New Hampshire, you can set off fireworks on private property in many cities and towns.
"This is crunch time, so we put in a lot of hour, but it is fun," said Megan Kearns, an employee at Phantom Fireworks in Seabrook, NH.
But Massachusetts is a different story -- all fireworks are illegal, everywhere.
"People cross over to New Hampshire over state lines they buy them and bring them back and they use them," said Pat Ruiz, Lawrence Fire Department investigator.
State police have been stepping up their patrols.
"It's a persistent challenge for us, has been for a number of years," Mason said. "The use of these fireworks within the community were creating a very negative quality of life issue."
In Brockton, a new task force is already finding success in cracking down on illegal fireworks.
"Since 2020 it has gone down 78 percent and so we are taking proactive steps," said Brockton police chief Brenda Perez.
The task force, made up of police and fire investigators, has also created a hotline for people to report firework issues.
"It is really just going out there and being proactive and identifying those locations that have been a problem, ongoing problem," Perez added.
State police say it's all about personal injury risk and property risk, as well.