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Honolulu man charged with importing illegal fireworks

    The ATF and Honolulu Fire Department continue to investigate the April 8 incident where five men were killed from a fireworks explosion inside a Waikele Business Center bunker.

A 44-year-old Honolulu man accused of importing illegal fireworks, some of which were destroyed in an explosion at a Waikele bunker on April 8, has been charged with several counts related to smuggling illegal fireworks into the country.

Federal authorities filed a complaint today in U.S. District Court against Gifford Chang for smuggling goods into the United States, making false statements to illegally bring goods into the country, and importing explosive materials without a license.

Chang was arrested today and was scheduled to appear in federal court at 3 p.m.

According to a court affidavit, he was licensed to import 1.4G type “consumer grade” fireworks, but was caught shipping 1.3G “commercial grade” fireworks through his company Tiger Corporation in December 2009.

Some of the seized fireworks were destroyed in the explosion on April 8, a U.S. Department of Justice news release said.

If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison for smuggling, two years for making false statements, and 10 years for importing explosives without a license.


“This month’s deadly explosion was a tragic reminder about the profound dangers of illegally imported fireworks,” said Wayne Wills, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Honolulu.



“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a growing volume of illegal fireworks being smuggled into Hawaii. Given the public safety risks, targeting those involved in these activities is a top priority for HSI and its law enforcement partners.”

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