Dutch police seize 36 tonnes of illegal fireworks
Dutch police have confiscated 36 tonnes of "the most dangerous kind" of illegal fireworks and arrested a suspected gang dealing in illicit pyrotechnics, prosecutors said on Friday.
"Police over the past week confiscated 28 tonnes of illegal fireworks" in the northeastern Drenthe province as part of a wide-ranging investigation into the trade, said a statement issued by the prosecutor's office.
"Two weeks ago, a further eight tonnes were confiscated" in the same investigation, it added.
"The fireworks consist of so-called 'avalanche arrows', 'butterfly bombs' and 'flowerbeds' and are of the most dangerous kind, with high explosive power," the statement said.
Prosecutors suspected the explosives were made in China and imported into the Netherlands through Belgium or Poland.
Four men aged 26, 35, 38 and 48 were arrested in the investigation and are suspected of being part of a criminal gang dealing in illicit fireworks.
Fireworks are a major part of Dutch celebrations over New Year's Eve when millions of euros are forked out on pyrotechnics and streets across the country resemble virtual battlefields.
However, dozens of people are injured and limbs are lost every year, mainly when illegal fireworks are set off. People are occasionally killed in the annual fireworks frenzy.
Authorities have restricted sales to a three-day period from December 29-31 and "only" 10 kilos (22 pounds) of fireworks per person, after an explosion at a fireworks warehouse in a residential area of the eastern town of Enschede in 2000 killed 22 people.
© 2012 AFP